Postpartum Support International

New Jersey

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is the world’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping those suffering from perinatal mood disorders, the most common complication of childbirth.

Our Mission is to increase awareness, education, prevention, and treatment of perinatal mental health issues affecting individuals, their families, and support systems in all areas of New Jersey.

Our Vision is that all pregnant and postpartum individuals and their families, including those from underserved communities, will have access to perinatal support, mental health/healthcare providers, education, and resources to improve overall well-being through advocacy, training, and increased awareness of perinatal mental health.

Katie McGowanChair: Katie McGowan

Katie McGowan, Ed.M, is founder and facilitator of Beyond the Baby Blues, a free virtual mom-to-mom support group for postpartum mothers. She is President of the New Jersey Chapter of Postpartum Support International, following her roles as Communication Chair and Advocacy Chair. After her own experiences with birth trauma and PMADs, Katie became passionate about helping women struggling in the postpartum period. She is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and taught kindergarten through 2nd grade in the public school system for 9 years. She received her certification in Perinatal Mental Health through PSI. She is a 2022 honoree of the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award for her volunteer work. Katie is a proud wife and the mother of two beautiful children.

Linda Klempner, PhDVice Chair: Dr. Linda Klempner

Linda Klempner, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in N.Y. and N.J., began Women’s Health Counseling & Psychotherapy in Teaneck over thirty years ago. Having served on the Board of Depression After Delivery and Postpartum Support International, she is currently Postpartum Support International-Advisory Council Chair.  Co-founder of the PSI-New Jersey Chapter, she currently serves as PSI-NJ Vice President and is on the Partnership for Maternal & Child Health of N.J.’s Regional Education Committee.  Dr. Klempner has written, taught and appeared on television regarding women’s reproductive health issues and maternal mental health and has served on the faculty of several postgraduate psychoanalytic institutes.  She is a winner of the Stars of RESOLVE award.

PMHA-POC Chair: Shanita Alvarez-Crawley

Shanita Alvarez-Crawley, LSW (She/Her/Hers) is a Social Work Manager at AtlantiCare Women’s and Children’s Services.  She provides mental health and support services across the healthcare system to perinatal and postpartum patients during the pregnancy and up to one year after birth.  She also works with women prior to pregnancy and provides substance use support services.  As the Social Work manager, She also oversees the operational and day to day activities of the Safe Beginnings Program at AtlantiCare that provides in home medical and social service support to pregnant women and their infants up to one year of life.  She is trained in PMH and will be seeking PMH-C certification.  Shanita has worked in the field of social services for 17 years and has experience in trauma, grief, and loss.  Her background is extensive in preventing child abuse and neglect and supporting families that have experiences incidents of abuse and neglect.

Deana Stevens, PsyDCLC: Dr. Deana Stevens

Deana Stevens, PsyD PMH-C is a Clinical Psychologist with specialties in reproductive mental health and substance abuse treatment. She has over 20 years of experience providing care in a variety of treatment settings to children, adolescents and adults. She is certified in the treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, EMDR therapy and is a Gottman Bringing Baby Home Educator.  In her practice, she works with growing families around issues of fertility, trauma and loss, pregnancy and parenting.  Since 2017 she has served as a facilitator of PSI’s CHAT with an Expert and an executive board member of the NJ PSI chapter.

Dr. Rachel ShmutsTreasurer: Dr. Rachel Shmuts

Dr. Rachel Shmuts, DO, is a reproductive and general adult psychiatrist practicing in Southern New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009 and pursued her general adult psychiatry residency training at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. She then completed a fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she discovered her clinical passion in women’s mental health.

Dr. Shmuts has spent some of her career in academic medicine and leadership, where she has been involved in curriculum reform and educating medical students and residents in various training programs, including psychiatry, family medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology at institutions across the United States. She is a coveted speaker on topics of women’s mental health at regional, national, and international conferences and truly enjoys the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of her work. She is also a specialist in transcranial magnetic stimulation, a non-medication treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders.

In addition to her clinical and educational work, she serves as the Treasurer for Postpartum Support International’s New Jersey Chapter, and she is active on other boards, committees, and advocacy groups serving the mental health care needs of the community.

Dr. Shmuts has over 10 years’ experience in comprehensive assessment and medication and psychotherapeutic management of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, co-occurring substance use disorders, and psychotic disorders. She is well versed in the evaluation and management of psychiatric disorders specific to women’s health, including but not limited to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), other mental disturbances occurring in relation to pregnancy and postpartum, breastfeeding, menses, preconception, infertility, contraception,and perimenopause.

Outside of her career, Dr. Shmuts enjoys spending time with her husband and three little girls as well as extended family. She is an avid reader and lover of TV, movies, crossword puzzles, the beach, and Peloton. She also is involved in volunteering at her children’s Jewish Community Day School and the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey.

Education and Training:Kristy Champignon

Kristy is a NJ and NY licensed counselor with over 15 years experience working in the mental health community and the founder of Meadowlark Counseling, Supervision, & Consultation. Since the birth of her son and her own experiences as a first time mom, Kristy has acquired additional training and certification in perinatal mental health with the mission and belief that all parents deserve the compassion and support of a village. Kristy is a passionate speaker and advocate educating her community on various mental health topics and stigma reduction. Kristy’s goal is to help moms and dads cherish and care for the person they become in parenthood.

Colleen ImlerCommunications Chair: Colleen Imler

Colleen is a communications professional with a decade of experience working on national consumer PR campaigns, engaging audiences through messaging and weaving stories across various media platforms. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Rowan University and masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Rider University. She is a proud mom, advocate for mental health and a survivor of PPD. As the Communications Chair, Colleen is responsible for spreading awareness and promoting various PSI-NJ programs through social media and PSI-NJ’s monthly e-newsletter.

Vanessa ParisiAdvocacy Chair: Vanessa Parisi

Vanessa Parisi, DO, MS, MPH, FACOG, NCMP, PMH-C is a graduate and former Global Health Academic Medicine Scholar from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. While in medical school, she earned her Master’s Degree in Neuromusculoskeletal Sciences & Certificate in Global Health from New York Institute of Technology. She simultaneously earned her Master’s in Public Health from A.T. Still University’s School of Health Management. Dr. Parisi continued her training in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) in Livingston, New Jersey where she served as administrative chief resident.

Dr. Parisi is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who worked as an OB/GYN generalist for six years. She has now transitioned out of solo private practice to a hospital-based and administrative setting. She is fully licensed without restriction in New York & New Jersey. She serves as a Hospitalist and Senior Attending OB/GYN physician at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, New York. She works per-diem as a Hospitalist with OB Hospitalist Group (OBHG) at Bellevue Women’s Center of Ellis Medicine in Niskayuna, New York. She also works per-diem as a Laborist with Mountainside Medical Center of Hackensack Meridian Health in Montclair, New Jersey.

In addition to general women’s health, obstetrics, and surgery, she has expertise in Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). Dr. Parisi earned her Postpartum Support International (PSI) and 2020 Mom’s Maternal Mental Health Certificate & PSI Advanced Psychopharmacology Certificate. In 2021, she completed her Certification in Perinatal Mental Health (PMH-C) and has worked as a PSI Maternal Mental Health Hotline Counselor. She serves as the Advocacy Chair for PSI New Jersey’s chapter. She also is a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) and has special interests in menopausal medicine and sexual wellbeing.

Dr. Parisi is the President of the New Jersey Obstetrical & Gynecological Society (NJOGS) and serves on a variety of subcommittees. She is also very involved in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for District III, participating in community service, advocacy, and education of young physicians and patients. She is one of two Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Champions and the Social Media/Communications Chair for her District. She is active in education and outreach in the Dominican Republic and visits regularly.

She has held several academic appointments at residencies, medical schools, and nursing programs. In 2019, she received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Mountainside Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program. In 2021, she received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine. She is interested in pursuing teaching again in her new chapter-didactics, simulation, clinical skills, and group learning.

Dr. Parisi has participated in teaching and medical service trips to Ecuador, Uganda, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, and the Philippines. Some of her hobbies include travel, gardening, snorkeling, candle making, and ballroom dance. Her passions include spending time with her family & friends, volunteerism, community education, and medical outreach. She is affectionately known as “Zizi” by her nieces and nephews which is her most fun role to date.

Stephanie SwaseyMembership Chair: Stephanie Swasey

Stephanie serves as a full spectrum doula who supports any pregnancy path and outcome. She is working toward a Certification in Perinatal Mental Health (PMH-C) and has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers University, which led her to a career as a pharmaceutical research and development scientist.

As Membership Chair, Stephanie is responsible for the recognition and welcoming of new members and guests. She organizes and hosts special events for meeting and greeting prospective new members to share how the chapter supports families in New Jersey.

Secretary: Ronnise L. White

Ronnise L. White is a certified Life Coach and graduate of the Art of Training and Development Coaching and Training Institute. She is the founder of Authentic Alignment, a coaching and educational organization that helps women identify their significance, strength, and influence. The concern for the well-being and positive outcome of families drives her attention toward familial issues. This passion has cultivated her focus on family programs that positively build the capability and capacity of individuals and collective family networks. Her advocacy efforts have significantly impacted youth, young adults, and women. Most recently, Ronnise has completed a DONA International Approved Birth Doula Workshop as well Community Lactation Educator Training.

Ronnise has worked in the education system for over 15 years and has been a recognized recipient of numerous awards for her contributions to the educational system of Buena Regional School District.  She also served as a Township Committeewoman in her local community serving on various advisory boards for many years. In September 2022, Ronnise became a co-author of the book, Released, which details women’s inspirational stories of freedom. She is the wife of a US Army Veteran and the mother of three adult children.

Scholarships and Nominations Chair: Susan Esserman

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (MSW and LCSW) who is also Perinatal Mental Health Certified (PMH-C), Susan has worked with women and their families around issues of pregnancy, birth and parenting for over 30 years.  She has in-depth experience in the areas of women and children’s health including pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting issues as well as pediatric health concerns — illness, palliative and hospice care. Susan works with her clients to help them discover their true selves through introspection, empathy and exploration.  She is experienced working with diverse populations and approaches each client holistically.  Susan provides a safe, compassionate place for her clients to explore their challenges and create a new direction that is satisfying and gratifying.

Susan has experience in understanding how trauma and neglect, as well as emotional, physical and sexual abuse all can impact a women’s birthing process, birth choices, breastfeeding, postpartum body issues, motherhood and parenting choices.  Issues around unexpected outcomes, NICU births and unanticipated cesarean section can all be addressed.  Susan is also an EMDR-trained clinician.

Community Outreach and Engagement: Deborah Flam

Deborah Flam, M.A., LAC, PMH-C, is a perinatal and reproductive therapist in N.J. and P.A. She has experience in providing psychotherapy to those struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, and she works with sexual abuse survivors in their childbearing years. Deborah has training in EMDR therapy, Exposure and Response Prevention, Compassionate Bereavement Care from the MISS Foundation, and trauma-informed care for survivors of sexual abuse. In addition, she has her Perinatal Mental Health Certification from PSI. Since 2021, Deborah has been facilitating a perinatal support group for PSI, a primary infertility support group for Yesh Tikva, and has been a PSI NJ support coordinator. Deborah is passionate about helping others and ensuring that all birthing people and families have access to mental health support and quality healthcare.

Climb Out of the Darkness Chair: Erin Begendorf

Erin is a licensed counselor with over 12 years experience working in the mental health community.  She is co-owner of Meadowlark Counseling, Consultation, and Supervision alongside Kristy Champignon.  Erin is a mom of two who experienced first hand, just how isolating being a new mom could be and was eager to find support.  Erin obtained her certification in perinatal mental health in 2020, and also has been a Climb leader for the past two years.   Coordinating and leading a climb ignited a passion to help bring community support together to raise awareness and funds for PSI-NJ.  As the Climb out of the Darkness Chair, Erin is responsible for coordinating and assisting in educating climb leaders and advocates around NJ to ensure that the message, “You are not alone,” is heard throughout the entire state, especially with mom’s and caregivers alike.

Want to make a difference in New Jersey?

Become a member or donate today!

PSI relies on members and contributions from the community to promote awareness, prevention, and treatment of maternal mental health issues related to childbearing.

All memberships are tax-deductible.

Become a PSI-NJ Volunteer

There are many ways to help and volunteer with PSI, and we would love to have you join us. All are welcome at PSI! Survivors, mental health professionals, doulas, clinicians, and anyone else interested and passionate about raising awareness about perinatal mental health can volunteer through the chapter in order to give back to their local communities.

PSI Chapters are made up of a variety of local advocates and stakeholders who further the mission of PSI on a grassroots level. Chapters work on a wide range of initiatives that they develop based on their communities needs. While some chapters may focus on passing legislation, others may create a robust network of peer support groups, and all chapters provide scholarships for PSI trainings and events.

Contact the Chapter to find out about volunteer opportunities near you. Explore other volunteer opportunities on the PSI website.


PSI-NJ offers scholarships for PSI perinatal mental health trainings and conferences.

Please contact the Chapter for more information.

PSI-NJ News & Events

We gather as a community to walk and socialize. We meet fellow survivors, supporters & providers. #climbout