Stop talking! Equity begins by listening

Sonja and Diane knew that as an organization they could do better with their services for African-American women during pregnancy. The two nurse leaders, who’d also served as nurse midwives, began a program of active listening to improve their understanding of pregnant womens’ stories, observations, questions, frustrations...and so much more. As Sonja and Diane built “DIVA Moms” they worked to connect what they heard with what they and their colleagues did. Together, they built a different way.

Sonja and Diane tell Paul how they co-created DIVA Moms


Sonja Batalden

CNM, MS, Nurse-Midwife & Director of Perinatal Care,Minnesota Community Care (MCC), St. Paul, Minnesota

Diane Banigo

DNP, APRN, CNM, M.S.,Social Architect and Nurse-Midwife Health Consultant

Supplementary materials


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Crear-Perry J, Correa-de-Araujo R, Johnson TL, McLemore MR, Neilson E, and Wallace M. “Social and Structural Determinants of Health Inequities in Maternal Health.” JWomen’s Health; 2021; 30:(2) 230-235. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2020.8882

O’Kane M, Agrawal S, Binder L, Dzau V, Gandhi TK, Harrington R, Mate K, McGann P, Meyers D, Rosen P, Schreiber M, and Schummers D.,“An Equity Agenda for the Field of Health Care Quality Improvement.” NAM Perspectives; 2021. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Wyatt R, Laderman M, Botwinick L, Mate K, Whittington J., Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2016. (Available at

Frei FX, and Morriss A.,"Begin with trust." Harvard Business Review 98.3 (2020): 112-121.

Roberts D. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the 21st Century. 2011. The New Press: New York