3 College of Nursing nurse-midwives named Fellows

May 20, 2024


Three University of Arizona College of Nursing faculty members were elected as Fellows to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Aleeca Bell, PhD, CNM, an associate professor, Shelley McGrew, DNP, CNM, an assistant clinical professor, and Marianna Holland, DNP, CNM, an assistant clinical professor, received the honors May 6.

ACNM fellowships are awarded to midwives who have demonstrated leadership within the organization, clinical excellence, outstanding scholarship and who have attained professional achievement that merits special recognition within and outside of the midwifery profession. The fellowship program was established in 1994.


Aleeca Bell, PhD, CNM


Bell has been a member of ACNM since 1998 and has served on its Division of Research Committee since 2016. She joined the UArizona College of Nursing faculty in 2020.

“Becoming a Fellow at ACNM is especially satisfying because my midwifery career began when home-birth midwives in Illinois were not generally respected and there were no out-of-hospital birth centers,” Bell said. “It was a time when women wanting a home birth probably did not receive continuity of care if they required hospitalization and when home-birth midwives made very little money. I’ve come full circle being able to apply what I learned as a clinician to being a funded perinatal researcher.”

While Bell no longer provides one-on-one care for women, her National Institutes of Health-funded R01 randomized clinical trial is in its final year, with results expected in the fall.

The trial “targets pregnant women with a history of childhood adversity and tests whether a multisensory infant massage given by the mother promotes synchronous mother-baby engagement,” Bell said. “We also collect repeated measures of the oxytocin system (before and after birth) because oxytocin facilitates social engagement and can become dampened when exposed to childhood adversity.

“We are testing whether our infant massage epigenetically improves the regulation of oxytocin to support synchrony. Hopefully our findings can be applied to other vulnerable populations, improving their oxytocin systems to facilitate synchronous engagement between parents and children.”


Shelley McGrew, DNP, CNM


McGrew joined ACNM in 2012 when she was a student midwife. She is a board member of the ACNM Arizona affiliate.

On being elected as a Fellow, McGrew said: “I'm honored to be joining so many accomplished midwives and it's nice to have recognition for my work.”

McGrew began teaching in the College of Nursing in fall 2023. She also works part-time clinically as a full-scope midwife at El Rio Health.

“My primary research interest is improving perinatal care through relational communication,” McGrew said. “I implemented tools to structure interpersonal communication within the perinatal health care setting. The goal of my work is to reduce disparities by building listening, trust and respect into how those giving and receiving care talk with one another.

“Midwifery is an ancient profession that is built on apprenticeship. Each midwife carries the gifts, skills and knowledge of those who came before and passes these on to the next generation. Historically and currently, many of the midwives who are carriers of the traditions have been ostracized, persecuted and eliminated. I am dedicated to furthering midwifery by celebrating and supporting these knowledge holders in the service of advancing perinatal justice, equity and quality.”


Marianna Holland, DNP, CNM


Holland has been a member of ACNM since she was a student midwife. She was a member of the annual meeting planning committee and is vice president of the ACNM Arizona affiliate. 

“I’m excited to be inducted as an ACNM Fellow,” Holland said.

Despite growing up near the U.S.-Mexico border, Holland said she didn’t meet other Spanish-speaking midwives until she attended ACNM annual meetings.

“There are very few of us even though the communities we serve as midwives can be largely Spanish speaking here in Arizona,” she said.

Holland joined the UArizona College of Nursing in June 2023 and teaches part time.


A version of this story originally appeared on Health Sciences Connect.