Board of directors
Anthony M. Brown, Esq., Chairman of the board / Secretary
Anthony currently is a senior associate at the law firm of Chianese and Reilly Law,P.C., heading their family and estates law division serving married and unmarried individuals, couples and families. Anthony is the Executive Director of The Wedding Party and has been a Board member since its inception in 1999. Anthony is the founder of TimeForFamilies.com, a web environment dedicated to assisting gay and lesbian couples create their own families. Anthony has worked as a law guardian at The Children’s Law Center, representing the legal needs of children in Brooklyn Family Court. Anthony also worked as a legal intern for Lambda Legal in the summer of 2002. Anthony was appointed as a board member and Secretary of the board of Men Having Babies upon its incorporation in July 2012 and has served as Board Chairman since 2013.
Gregory J. Payton, Ph.D, board member
Greg is a Lecturer in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University and a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. Greg received his Masters degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University and his Doctorate from Columbia University. In his teaching, research and practice, Greg emphasizes the resiliency of the LGBTQ population and works to support their efforts at creating families. Additionally, Greg is an alumnus of the Point Foundation and currently serves as a Mentor and member of the Alumni Committee. Greg and his husband Robert Lafferty welcomed their daughter, Grace, into their family in 2013 and their son, James, in 2015.
Michelle Pine, board member, chair of the Surrogates Advisory Committee
Michelle Pine is a special education teacher for students with mild disabilities at an alternative high school in Klamath Falls, Oregon, having previously taught special education and Language Arts in Portland. Michelle holds two Masters in Education from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Eastern Oregon University. When not working, Michelle enjoys reading and writing and spending time with her family exploring Oregon. Michelle was a gestational surrogate for a same-sex couple from Israel in 2015, and has recently begun a second journey with a serodiscordant couple from San Francisco. She and her husband have three amazing children, all who played an important role in her first surrogacy journey and are equally excited about the next one.
Ron Poole-Dayan, board member / executive director
Ron is the executive director and founding board member of Men Having Babies. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and business strategy development both in the USA and internationally. Ron earned his Masters degree in political economy and comparative politics from Columbia University, and his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ron is married to Greg Poole-Dayan, the Administrator of the Jewish Home Lifecare Nursing Home in the Bronx. The couple met in 1994, and are among of the first same-sex couples in the nation to father children through gestational surrogacy. The twins, born in 2001, were conceived with the use of eggs donated by Greg's sister, and carried by a gestational carrier. Ron has been the MHB program coordinator since 2005, and was appointed as the Executive Director of Men Having Babies upon its incorporation in July 2012.
Asaf Rosenheim, board member
Asaf Rosenheim serves as the head of Business Development for family owned real estate practice, Profimex in Israel. Prior to joining Profimex he was a VP at Ares and served in the Israeli Army as a Medic Staff Sergeant. He graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a BS in Business and Finance and received an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Asaf is married to Eric Patton and together they are parents to boy and girl twins born at the beginning of 2012 with the help of a surrogate who became a close friend. In the past, Asaf served at the Head of ‘Rutgers Newark Gay and Lesbian Alliance’, fostered and rehabilitated three rescue pit-bulls for ‘Earth Angels,’ a Bronx based non-profit canine rescue and taught yoga community classes. After speaking at Men Having Babies' workshop and facilitating the formulation of The Gay Parenting Assistance Program and the 2013 New York annual seminar he joined the board in May 2013. Asaf is passionate about providing information and support to perspective parents on their journey to what he and his husband Eric see as the greatest gift that they have ever gotten, becoming parents.
Georges Sylvestre, MD, board member
Georges Sylvestre is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist specialized in High-Risk Pregnancies, currently Chairman of OBGYN at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens. Georges and his husband David Margolis live in Manhattan, and are the proud fathers of Tristan and Noah, born in 2010 and 2013 via gestational surrogacy. Having grown up in France, Canada and Switzerland, the Sylvestre-Margolis boys speak French and English at home, and has traveled extensively across the world, making a point of meeting other LGBT gay couples raising children. Georges' profession and personal experience give him a unique advantage in understanding the medical, psychological, ethical and financial challenges of the IP/couple –egg donor – Gestational surrogate triad.
Sherman L. Taylor II, board member
Sherman is a technology manager in the Research & Development organization of Procter & Gamble, based in Cincinnati, OH. Sherman received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces from Carnegie Mellon University. Sherman leads of group of scientists and engineers to create new and improved consumer products; he has worked across a variety of brands in his career including Pampers, Vicks, PuR, Swiffer, Magic Erasers, Bounce and Downy. Sherman also leads the design of corporate training programs to accelerate the growth and development of New Hires upon entering the company. Sherman and his husband Andrew have a son via surrogacy, born in 2013.
Michael Wetson, board member / treasurer
Michael is co-owner and Director of Professional Service Delivery for Inscio, LLC, a Dallas-based consulting firm specializing in connecting information with people via NetSuite and other leading solutions. Michael Wetson’s first experience with surrogacy began as he and his husband Shawn started their journey in 2012. Their twins, Olivia and Sawyer, were born via an anonymous egg donor and Gestational Surrogate in 2013. When not chasing the twins around the house or resolving employee and customer requests, Michael and Shawn enjoy running (or napping, whichever task wins the toss). Michael is a graduate of the University of Kansas, has mentored several gay couples as they began their own journey, and has been an outspoken advocate for gay families for the past several years.
Laura Alabre, Events Coordinator and GPAP Case Manager
Laura joined Men Having Babies in February 2017 as the organization was welcoming the fourth “class” of Stage II Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) recipients. Laura’s responsibilities include Stage II GPAP case management and coordination of the selection and matching process. She also provides support in conference production and coordination. Prior to that she worked at CT Fertility as the Third Party Journey Coordinator, Egg Donor Matching Coordinator as well as a liaison to Israeli patients. Laura has also previously been a known egg donor to several couples all over the world to support their dreams of becoming parents, because having children has been her most treasured life experience. She lives in Connecticut with her two amazing children, Malia and Jordan.
Katelyn C. Jakobsen, LICSW, Social Worker
Katelyn joined the Men Having Babies team in October 2013 as part of the launch of the Gay Parenting Assistance Program. Her primary focus is conducting psycho-social assessments and helping IP’s and gestational surrogates to properly structure their surrogacy experience from the beginning. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in providing clinical support during the gestational surrogacy experience, Katelyn holds a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. Upon completion of her degree, she worked for social services in multiple states, specializing in foster care and adoption until she made the transition to surrogacy in 2008. Katelyn also works as a consultant at The Center for Surrogacy and Egg Donation in Southborough, MA, managing the surrogate screening process. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and presents at their annual conference on clinical aspects of surrogacy. Katelyn resides in a suburb of Boston, MA, wife to husband, Bjorn, and mother to two young, energetic and adorable boys, Carter and Bradley.
Lisa Pollice, Finance and Operations Manager
Lisa joined MHB in March 2017 to work alongside our Treasurer to improve financial planning and reporting. Lisa also focuses on creating budgets for our Gay Parenting Assistance Program’s Stage II recipients, and liaise with the financial departments of the growing number of providers who pledge pro bono services for the program. Lisa resides with her family in Kansas City, MO. Her career began in administration and accounting in the private sector, then transitioned into development and management in the voluntary sector for such organizations as AIDS Walk, March of Dimes and Susan G Komen.
Catherine (Cat) Pursley, Application and Membership Coordinator
Cat joined Men Having Babies in April 2017 to assist couples through the application and evaluation process for the Gay Parenting Assistance Program. Cat serves as a liaison between organizational leadership and members. Her career has been in the financial and organizational development of various types of businesses including not for profit. She brings to her the position more than ten years of experience with corporate financial preparation, analysis and budgeting. Cat resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two amazing girls.
David Samson, Development Officer
David Samson joined the Men Having Babies team as Development Officer in the summer of 2015. David is the son of an Air Force Colonel and a pastor, and hails mostly from central Ohio and southern California. David moved to Boston in 2003 where he attended Berklee College of Music, majoring in Music Business and Management and Vocal Performance. After college, David worked in key development and operations positions for the Unitarian Universalist Association, MassEquality, Mainers United for Marriage and Boston Baroque, before starting his own consulting firm. In his capacity as Principal of Samson Consulting Services, David helps organizations around the nation achieve sustainability through capacity building, operational support, and financial analysis. David currently resides in Boston’s south end with his husband and two wonderful golden retrievers.
Surrogates Advisory Committe
Stacey Ashe (SC)
As a surrogate mother, Stacey has carried three sets of twins for three families, including for a same sex couple from the Netherlands. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and their three children, included one who was adopted. Stacey received her master’s degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina and she currently works as a family nurse practitioner.
Corbie Dimopoulos (IL)
Corbie and her husband have 4 boys aging in range from 3 months to 14 years old. She was a gestational carrier in 2013 for a same sex couple in NYC. Corbie is a senior designer specializing in residential design at an architectural millwork company in the northern suburbs of Chicago
Amber Gaskil (TX)
Amber and her husband have three children and she had been interested in being a surrogate for several years, but lived in a state where it isn't legal; when her family moved to Texas in 2010, she began to pursue surrogacy. She was matched with a NYC same sex couple and completed her first journey in 2014. Amber since agreed to help the couple again for a sibling journey.
Nicole Lewakowski (IL)
Nicole and her husband have two children ages 9 and 7. “Shortly after completing our family we decided that we wanted to help another family to be as lucky and happy as we were!” Nicole proceeded to become a gestational surrogate for a same sex couple from Spain, and carried two girls for them, now 4 and 2 years old.
Lisa Regula Meyer (OH)
Lisa from Ohio helped create 4 families through egg donation, and both gestational and traditional surrogacy for gay couples in Massachusetts and upstate New York. Lisa has a PhD in Ecology from Kent State University, and she currently works as a biology Instructor at University of Akron.
Rachelle Myers-Nelson (CA)
Rachelle and her husband have one son who is 7 years old. Rachelle is a surrogate mother who has completed two journeys for two different gay couples from Italy. She delivered a singleton boy in April 2013 and twin boys in March 2015. She loves sharing about her relationship with the intended parents, minimizing the use of injectable medications, the support she received from her husband, friendships lost and gained, and really anything surrogacy related. Rachelle has served as an advocate and public speaker on matters including surrogacy, gay marriage and gay parenting, and in 2016 gave several media interviews to Italian and Belgian media on these subjects.
Melissa Rahe (PA)
Melissa and her husband Bill have six children including some which were adopted. She has been a gestational carrier three times and has completed a sibling journey for a same sex couple from Belgium. Melissa has served as an advocate, trainer and public speaker on a variety of subject matters including surrogacy, adoption and the foster care system.
Victoria T. Ferrara, Esq.
Victoria Ferrara is the Founder and Legal Director of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, LLC, a successful surrogacy matching agency, through which she has helped many couples and individuals have children. One of her achievements is the landmark decision of Raftopol v. Ramey, 12 A.3d 783 299 Conn. 681 (2011), a Connecticut Supreme Court case that essentially created a new way to establish legal parentage in Connecticut, i.e., by being a party (Intended Parent) to a valid gestational agreement regardless of genetic connection to the child to be born to the gestational surrogate. Attorney Ferrara appears frequently in courts throughout the State of Connecticut for all matters in involving assisted reproduction law, pre-birth orders, and adoptions, including co-parent and step-parent adoption matters. She is a member of the Academy of Assisted Reproductive Law Attorneys, the Family Law Institute, the National Gay and Lesbian Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association, and the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association.
Susanna Park, M.D.
World renowned for her fertility expertise, IVF success and excellence in medical care, Dr. Susanna Park has practiced as an infertility physician for the past 15 years. Dr. Park joined the San Diego Fertility Center in 2012 following her tenure at Columbia University in New York City. Her passion is to combine her extensive experience as an infertility physician with individualized care and compassion. Dr. Park is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. She graduated summa cum laude from Siena College and obtained her medical degree at Albany Medical College. Dr. Park completed her residency and her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr. Park has developed a large international referral practice due to her excellent patient rapport and high success rates with a variety of treatments including IVF, donor eggs, egg freezing and gestational surrogacy. Dr. Park works closely with the leading surrogacy agencies to assist the LGBT community build families.
Steven H. Snyder, Esq.
Steven Snyder is the founding and principal partner of Steven H. Snyder & Associates, Attorneys At Law and the International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC) in Minnesota. Mr. Snyder attended law school at the University of Minnesota, graduating cum laude in 1982. Mr. Snyder successfully litigated the first and only contested Minnesota surrogacy case to date in 2006 in which he won sole custody of the child for a single gay father. He is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA), Immediate Past Chair of the Reproductive & Genetic Technology Committee of the Family Law Section of the ABA, Past Chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Section, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Mr. Snyder also serves on the national legal advisory committee of RESOLVE: The National Fertility Association, is past chair of the legal advisory group for the American Fertility Association (for education, support, and advocacy on behalf of infertile persons), and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (national organization of fertility physicians) and its legal professionals group.
Said T. Daneshmand, MD, FACOG
Dr. Said Daneshmand is an internationally recognized fertility specialist with extensive experience in providing third-party reproductive services. Dr. Daneshmand serves on the board of several surrogacy advocacy groups. He has collaborated to develop in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocols to improve pregnancy rates, including PTEC (post-thaw extended culture), which is one of the most successful IVF regimens currently available. These groundbreaking findings were published in the internationally respected medical journal, Fertility and Sterility, where Dr. Daneshmand also served as a reviewer. Dr. Daneshmand completed his fellowship and residency at UCLA. He is specialty board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and sub specialty board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology. Among his achievements, Dr. Daneshmand is the recipient of numerous awards including the Eileen Pike Medical School Valedictorian Award and the PCRS Fellowship and Practicing Physician Research Award. He has served as the President of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society (Iota Chapter) and is a member of the Decherney Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). Dr. Daneshmand speaks French, Spanish and Farsi.
Stephanie Scott is the Co-Owner/Executive Program Director for Simple Surrogacy and Simple Donations in Dallas, TX. Her passion in life is helping childless couples and individuals realize their dreams of becoming parents. With over 14 years of experience in the surrogacy and egg donation community, having been a surrogate twice before and managing one of the most supportive, well-respected and cost-consciousness agencies in the United States, Stephanie has well rounded knowledge of every aspect of the surrogacy and egg donation process. She holds her team and the colleagues she works with to a higher standard, she expects everyone to go the extra mile so that clients who come through the program are not only successful, but have had a good experience. As the Program Director, Stephanie manages the day to day operations at Simple Surrogacy and Simple Donations. Her duties include, but are not limited to, new client consultations, profile review and editing, educating her clients about the process, creating a realistic budget for her clients and ensuring her team is properly supportive all parties throughout their journey.
“The bottom line at Simple Surrogacy is creating a life and a family, everything else becomes secondary.”- Stephanie Scott
Melvin Thornton II, MD
Dr. Melvin Thornton II is the Acting Medical Director & Director, Donor Egg Program at CT Fertility. Dr. Thornton has deep expertise in the areas of IVF, surrogacy and donor egg, fertility preservation and male infertility. He recognizes the stressful nature of infertility treatment and brings a compassionate touch to every interaction. Known for his calm demeanor, his patients frequently describe him as a reassuring and personable physician who truly cares. Prior to joining CT Fertility, he spent 15 years with the Columbia University IVF program where he held many leadership posts, including Medical Director of its Westchester campus and Director of the donor egg program. In addition to his practical medical experience, he has devoted countless hours to sharing his passion for RE by teaching and mentoring medical students, fellows, and residents as an Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia. Dr. Thornton has published more than 30 papers, written several book chapters and presented nearly 40 abstracts at professional conferences.
John Hesla, M.D.
John S. Hesla, MD is one of the most-respected and experienced physicians helping LGBTQ intended parents build their families through egg donor surrogacy. He joined Oregon Reproductive Medicine in 1999 as the co-founder of its groundbreaking IVF program — helping to build one of the first embryology laboratory clean rooms in the world. Dr. Helsa is internationally recognized for his innovative methods for treating infertility, and for his overall tenacity and dedication to helping patients achieve their dream of a successful pregnancy. Prior to joining ORM, Dr. Hesla was director of IVF and head of reproductive surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Hesla is globally recognized by the LGBTQ community for his compassionate approach and consistent success. Dr. Hesla has been instrumental in setting ORM’s high standards for our medically screened Donor Egg Program, as well as for surrogates and their comprehensive medical screening.
Dr. Mark P. Leondires, M.D.
Dr. Mark P. Leondires is Medical Director and Partner at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) and Gay Parents To Be. He is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Prior to joining RMACT, he served as the Director of Assisted Reproductive Technologies at the Combined Federal Program for Reproductive Endocrinology. During this time he was an Assistant Professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and clinical faculty for the Combined Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology. He received his undergraduate degree from Colby College. He earned his medical degree from the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine followed by a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. His professional society memberships include the Society of Reproductive Endocrinologists, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Diane Hinson, Esq.
Diane Hinson is the Owner, Founder and Managing Attorney of Creative Family Connections LLC, an international Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law firm that focuses exclusively on legal issues pertaining to surrogacy and also helps match intended parents to gestational surrogates. Diane is recognized as a legal expert in the area of ART within the surrogacy community and as a leading family building resource around the world. She offers legal information to readers of the Surromomsonline Forum called “Ask Attorney Diane Hinson, Esq.” Diane is an elected Fellow of the American Association of Assisted Reproductive Attorneys (AAARTA), is an active member of the Reproduction Law subcommittee of the American Bar Association (ABA), and serves as a professional member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) Legal Practice Group. In support of LGBT, Diane provides surrogacy-related guidance and pro-bono services to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), regularly speaks at the Family Equality Council’s conferences, acts as a guest teacher for the “Maybe Baby” class, sponsored by Rainbow Families DC.
Guy Ringler, M.D.
In clinical practice for twenty years, Dr. Ringler of California Fertility Partners has developed a large international referral practice due to his excellent patient rapport and high success rates with a variety of treatments including surgical correction of disease, IVF, donor eggs, egg freezing and gestational surrogacy. Dr. Ringler has worked closely with the leading surrogacy agencies to help gay individuals and same-sex couples build families. He has helped LGBT people worldwide achieve their dream of having children. As one of the world’s first fertility doctors to help gay men become parents, Dr. Ringler is a family-building spokesperson for GLAAD and a contributor at the Huffington Post. Dr. Ringler is committed to patient education and is on the Board of Directors of the American Fertility Association. With the AFA he has increased public awareness of fertility options for people with HIV, and he has successfully helped HIV-positive people have children through surrogacy. Dr. Ringler is himself a gay man and lives in Los Angeles with his long-term partner.
Staci Swiderski is the CEO and Co-founder of Family Source Consultants, one of North America's leading Surrogacy and Egg Donation agencies. Staci has more than 15 years experience in Third Party Reproduction and also an active member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine.
Staci oversees Family Source Consultants to ensure values are applied consistently from top to bottom, across all departments by implementing the agencies vision, mission and overall direction.
Being a former Intended Mother herself, as well as a known egg donor twice, Staci has the passion, knowledge and personal experience related to reproductive medicine and family building.
Leia’s passion for alternative family building began at age sixteen, when she was a birth mother to a daughter placed in an open adoption. Since then, she has had three children of her own – ages 19,11, and a new baby. She has been a gestational surrogate twice and an egg donor several times. Leia’s approach to surrogacy is simple – taking a holistic approach to ensure that all parties are supported, encouraged and protected. She has made great industry connections and working partnerships with professionals worldwide to ensure that she can help to develop the fertility plan that best suits your needs. Having owned Canadian Fertility Consulting since 2007, she has had the opportunity to help hundreds of couples become parents. Leia’s previous experience as a small business owner and background in management and small business development has helped her grow CFC into Canada’s foremost surrogacy consulting service. Leia and CFC have been featured many times in Canadian media, including Canada AM and The National Post, helping to depict third-party reproduction as a tangible and approachable subject in the country.
Past board members
Dr. Jeffrey T. Parsons, board member 2012-2014
Dr. Parsons is the Chair of Psychology at Hunter College and conducts LGBT health-related research. Dr. Parsons received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Houston in 1992. He was appointed to the faculty of New Jersey City University in 1992, where he remained as a professor until 2000 when he moved to CUNY. He and his partner of 19 years, Chris, are parents of Henry, born via traditional surrogacy in August of 2006. Jeff spoke at group shortly after Henry was born, and was on panel at the 2008 Men Having Babies seminar, discussing traditional and independent surrogacy. Jeff was a founding board member and Treasurer of Men Having Babies upon its in corporation in July 2012 and until May 2014.