Memorial Remembrance – Margaret Ann Marshall
1944 – 2021
A wise and tenacious voice for women and newborns, Margaret Ann “Peg” Marshall, CNM, EdD, MPH, MLA, MA, FACNM, was a midwife for the world and a consummate friend. She was vaccinated against COVID and would have been able to resume, in person, her life of service, had it not been for cancer that took her life on July 3, 2021.
Peg was well-educated with degrees in liberal arts, nursing, public health, education, and Latin American Studies, as well as certification in nurse-midwifery. She continued her learning throughout her life, when school was long past, keeping up with world events and the latest ideas and issues in the US and across the globe.
Known for her work in Africa and Latin America, Peg started her international work in Asia in 1980 on the Thai-Cambodian border in the Nong Chan Cambodian Refugee Camp, run by the International Committee of the Red Cross, where she developed a training curriculum for traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and supervised rural doctors. The next year she served as a field officer and camp midwife at the Ali Matan Refugee Camp in the Gedo Region of Somalia for the Interchurch Response for the Horn of Africa. These two experiences informed her deep interest and care for refugees, displaced persons, and all people affected by conflict and poverty.
In Africa, including in Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria, Peg worked closely with midwives and physicians. She partnered and mentored many and, through long-standing relationships, was able to influence policy, education, and practice mandates for midwives. She would sit with leaders, ask about their issues, listen to their ideas and concerns, provide wise counsel, and leave decisions to them. She garnered the respect of her collaborators.
Using her fluency in Spanish and her deep knowledge of Latin America, Peg worked extensively in the region. During her time as Senior Technical Advisor for Maternal and Child Health and Infectious Diseases at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Bureau, she provided leadership for the control of malaria and attention to antimicrobial resistance. She was a strong supporter of the Amazon Malaria Initiative (AMI) and led, with Jaime Chang, the creation of the South American Infectious Disease Initiative (SAIDI). A true ambassador, Peg had numerous connections in national organizations throughout the region, as well as with the Pan American Health organization (PAHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She was a champion for maternal newborn care and midwifery in the region and was effective in obtaining improved measurement of maternal mortality. She increased attention to safe and respectful care of the newborn, and evidence-based policy and standards of practice for quality care, as well as promotion of midwifery education.
Peg was an educator throughout her life. She served on the clinical faculty at Georgetown University and the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Nurse-Midwifery Educational Programs. Peg authored and co-authored curricula and training manuals for health promotors, TBAs, nurses, and midwives on family planning and maternal newborn health; she constructed examination questions and evaluated programs. She co-authored, with Sandra Tebben Buffington, the Life Saving Skills Manual for Midwives for the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) that was translated into Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia, Russian, and Tajik. This essential text was used in WHO training modules and implemented in numerous countries as the key resource for enhancing the skills of frontline midwives. Furthermore, she was instrumental in helping to get Helen Varney Burst’s textbook on nurse-midwifery translated into Spanish and thereby accessible to maternal newborn clinicians in the LAC region. Uniformly, Peg’s colleagues note her perseverance as a hallmark of her work ethic and dedication. One example was her relentless and essential decade-long support of the development of a formal midwifery educational program in Guatemala. This spring she was so pleased to attend, via zoom, the graduation of the first class of professional midwives from a Guatemalan university. This was just one of her indelible marks left on midwifery education.
Midwifery has characterized Peg’s persona. Not only certified as a nurse-midwife in the US, she also held midwifery registration in Uganda and Nigeria. Early on, she provided midwifery care at Baltimore City Hospital in Maryland and served as Nurse-Midwifery Administrator at Montefiore Hospital, Morrisania Affiliation in Bronx, New York. She then held positions of Director of Nurse-Midwifery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Elizabeth, New, Jersey, and Coordinator of the US/Mexico Exchange Program for the Georgetown University Nurse-Midwifery program. She also served as regional representative to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) in the 1990s. A Fellow of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (FACNM) who was inducted with the inaugural group of fellows in 1994, she served on numerous national and chapter committees for the College. Peg was employed by ACNM as Director of the Special Projects/Global Outreach Program that designed, implemented, and evaluated international projects to advance maternal and newborn health and survival. In 2010, Peg was honored by the A.C.N.M. Foundation with the Dorothea M. Lang Pioneer Award for her exceptional vision and innovative leadership in the advancement of American and global maternal and child health.
For many of us who knew and worked with her, we will savor the memories of Peg’s robust sense of humor, warm chuckles, infectious laughter, and heart-warming smile.Peg will be remembered around the world as an outstanding colleague, trusted advisor, wise mentor, and dear friend. Her intelligence, perseverance, thoughtfulness, hospitality, and generosity of spirit will live on in the lives of all those whom she touched. Peg will always be loved and remembered by a global community of midwives and held dearly in our hearts.