We’re very proud of our team and the level of care we provide. We partner with you to keep you in the best of health.
Ankita Desai, M.D.
Dr. Ankita Desai grew up in Orlando, Florida. She attended both college and medical school at the University of Miami. Dr. Desai did her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in OB/Gyn, and she has a special interest in international health and family planning. She also speaks Spanish.
Dr. Desai and her husband, Sarat Ganga, moved to the Raleigh-Durham area for new job opportunities and look forward to a change from the fast pace of Miami to the feasible pace of Raleigh-Durham. Both Dr. Desai and her husband love to get outside and go hiking, and engage in any water activities.
Frank A. Frenduto, M.D.
Dr. Frenduto was born and raised in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor of science and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at The Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Dr. Frenduto joined Women's Health Alliance, Durham (PKA Durham Women's Clinic) in July 1998.
Dr. Frenduto is a managing partner and a board member for the Women's Health Alliance. His special interests are high-risk pregnancies, laparoscopic surgery, and gynecologic ultrasound.
One of the most rewarding aspects of his work is building relationships with his patients and their families over the years. He truly enjoys his job. Words to describe Dr. Frenduto include happy, genuine, caring, compassionate, dedicated, hardworking, outdoorsman, and family-centered.
After work each day, Dr. Frenduto retreats to his home in Orange County, which he shares with his wife and two teenage daughters. Lucy and George, the resident golden retrievers, are always eager to give him a warm welcome and play ball. His hobbies include fishing, running, gardening, and making art with his chainsaw.
He credits his parents for his work ethic and his desire to care for people. His mother was a compassionate home health care nurse. She was instrumental in the beginning of the home health industry in the late 70s and 80s. His father was a chemical engineer who still enjoys discussing science and technology whenever he gets a chance. The nurturing side of his mother and the analytic side of his father helped him choose a career in medicine. Dr. Frenduto also grew up always knowing the importance of treating people equally. Both of his parents showed him the value and the reward of helping others. His mother used to say: “everybody is nice until they are not nice.”
Regarding the Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance program, Dr. Frenduto recalls his first year of residency. “I worked out of a county hospital and the staff was made up of midwives with one attending physician. So, I learned a lot from the midwives—things you won’t learn from the attending physicians. When I came to Durham Women’s Clinic in 1998 we had a midwifery program. Circumstances resulted in a pause in our program, so I am just so happy that midwifery services have returned to Women’s Health Alliance!”
Dr. Frenduto concludes, “I really enjoy working with our diverse team of midwives, we truly work as a team both in the office and on hospital call, our patents are the ultimate winners from this collaboration.”
Barrett Gunter, M.D.
Barrett Gunter has been with Women’s Health Alliance Durham (previously known as Durham Women’s Clinic) since 1986. He likes the triple win and combined benefits of working for an independent private medical practice, having admission privileges at a community hospital (Duke Regional), and interacting with/teaching OB/Gyn residents from Duke University Medical Center. His dedication to women’s health has been unwavering for this tenure. Now, 30 years later, his vital contributions continue to invigorate the practice.
The origin of Dr. Barrett Gunter’s interest in healthcare can be traced to his pediatrician, Dr. Ben Gilbert, in his hometown of Gainesville, GA; and to one of his first mentors, Dr. Hamil Murray, the first full-time pathologist at Hall County Hospital, now Northeast Georgia Health System. Ben Gilbert was also a neighbor and close family friend. Dr. Gunter vividly remembers visits to Dr. Gilbert’s office—visits that included examinations, stethoscopes, tongue blades, otoscopes, and reusable hypodermic syringes and needles. One of Dr. Gunter’s first summer jobs during his high school years was as a phlebotomist, drawing blood samples on inpatients and assisting in the laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Murray. The lab was quite elementary, with reagents made by hand from recipes using beakers and pipettes. Dr. Murray introduced to his young assistant the idea of a career in medicine.
After graduating from The Lawrenceville School near Princeton, NJ, Dr. Gunter attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since he had not taken a formal class in chemistry in high school, he decided to try freshman chemistry. He remembers, “Wow, I did not realize that this was not only a prerequisite for considering medical school, but also an opportunity to weed out those not so serious or inclined to pursue such a profession!” His first semester went well; he met many pre-med students, and eventually graduated with a degree in chemistry. Following attendance at the Emory University School of Medicine where he received his MD degree, he attended Vanderbilt University Medical for his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Again, mentors during his medical school days in Atlanta heavily influenced his interest—this time in women’s health care.
Dr. Gunter received several offers to join OB/Gyn practices following his residency, but there were compelling characteristics about a private practice in Durham, NC—Durham Women’s Clinic—that influenced his decision. The physicians and staff were very welcoming, and admitting privileges were at an excellent community hospital, Durham County General Hospital (now Duke Regional Hospital). There was also the opportunity to interact with and teach OB/Gyn residents from the Duke OB/Gyn Department. In addition, Durham seemed to be a great place to live and raise a family.
Dr. Gunter feels that the opportunities to be involved in the healthcare for women are diverse and rewarding. He enjoys being in the office to provide prenatal care, practice preventative care, solve problems, and develop long-lasting relationships with patients. The outpatient and hospital environments provide another dimension for managing the special experience of labor and delivery or performing pelvic surgery for a variety of indications.
Dr. Gunter is especially proud of and passionate about our midwifery service, Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance. He has been around midwives for his entire professional career. The current collaborative model that WHA introduced September 2011 has been an exciting journey, and he loves working with our midwives. WHA also offers a group model of prenatal care, CenteringPregnancy®, that has exceeded his expectations and is very popular with patients.
As his career has evolved, there have been several areas where Dr. Gunter has pursued additional training and education to make a difference in the lives of his patients. Advances in the technology of obstetric and pelvic ultrasound imaging have been invaluable to help him care for patients. Pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence can have a profound effect on quality of life. Patients are thankful when our practice can assist with these somewhat embarrassing problems by offering a thorough evaluation and presenting options for management. In addition, heart disease is the leading killer among women. Our practice performs risk assessments for heart disease and orders lab tests to estimate cardiovascular risk. With these findings, we suggest lifestyle changes and share options for treatment with patients. Dr. Gunter also has a strong interest in the screening, diagnosis, and management of osteoporosis. Improving the skeletal health of postmenopausal women can have a significant impact on quality of life as women age.
Dr. Gunter continues to engage in efforts to preserve the private practice of medicine, and to ensure that physicians find their careers in OB/Gyn satisfying and rewarding. In January 2014 he helped launch Unified Women’s Healthcare of North Carolina, a single specialty entity of over thirty OB/Gyn practices from Asheville to Morehead City. Dr. Gunter serves on the board, and he is committed to effecting positive change in the future delivery of healthcare to women.
When not in the office or on call, Dr. Gunter enjoys time with his wife and son, and visiting his daughter and son-in-law and their twins. He stays active with swimming and cycling. The entire family enjoys eating at the many great options found in the Triangle.
Board-Certified: American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Fellow: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Residency: Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
MD: Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Memberships: North Carolina Medical Society, Durham-Orange County Medical Society, National Lipid Association, International Society for Clinical Densitometry
Denise M. Olson, M.D.
Dr. Denise Olson was born and raised in the greater Grand Rapids area of Michigan. She received a B.S. degree, magna cum laude, from Western Michigan University and her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Medicine, where she was elected to membership of AOA honor medical society.
Dr. Olson completed her residency years at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, IL, where she served as Administrative Chief Resident. She was introduced to North Carolina in the spring of 1993 when the azaleas were in full bloom.
She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Olson has practiced at Durham Women's Clinic since 1993. Her special interests are primary care and office based treatments in gynecology. She lives in Durham and has two sons. When Dr. Olson is away from the office, she enjoys playing the piano, tennis, reading, gardening, yoga, bicycling and traveling the world.
Toby A. Ritterhoff, M.D.
Dr. Ritterhoff was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her bachelor's degree, cum laude, from the University of Maryland. She earned her medical degree from the U. of Maryland School of Medicine. After an internship at Boston City Hospital, she returned to the U. of Maryland system to complete her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
She was in private practice for 17 years in the Baltimore area. There she trained in minimally invasive surgery. She was also an award-winning instructor of interns and residents of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Dr. Ritterhoff joined Durham Women’s Clinic in 2008 after relocating to North Carolina with her family. She loves the loyalty to Durham Women’s Clinic that many patients show—with stories going all the way back to Dr. Easley. She is happy to be part of this continuum and loves taking care of all women of all ages.
Dr. Ritterhoff is a certified yoga instructor and appreciates the opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles. She is married to her medical school sweetheart, David. They have three grown daughters and a dog named Rowan.
Nicolette Schreiber, M.D.
Dr. Schreiber was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, home of the Florida Gators. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and moved to Miami for medical school. While in medical school, she developed a love for obstetrics and gynecology and the opportunities provided by the field to form lasting relationships with women in all stages of life. She has a special interest in minimally invasive gynecology, contraception and family planning, and caring for women throughout all stages of pregnancy.
She spent a year in residency training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and completed her residency at the University of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she was elected administrative chief resident. While in residency she also received The Excellence in Teaching Resident Award, was named Outstanding Chief Resident, and won a Minimally Invasive Gynecology Award. Dr. Schreiber also holds a degree in Spanish, and after ten years in Miami she speaks the language fluently.
After completing her residency, she stayed in Miami for a year as an attending physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital until her family relocated to North Carolina. Here they have enjoyed meeting new people, loved the variety of outdoor activities, and delighted in the beautiful climate. Accordingly, they have decided to call North Carolina home. During her time off, Dr. Schreiber enjoys spending time with her husband and their one-year-old son. They love hiking, exploring the outdoors, cooking, and traveling.
We welcome and are thrilled to have Dr. Schreiber on board as our newest OB/Gyn physician. She will be seeing patients here at Women’s Health Alliance Durham, as well as at our Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance Satellite Office at Brier Creek in Raleigh, NC.
Michele B. Kessler, PA-C
A native of Rochester, NY, Michele received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany. She graduated cum laude as a physician's assistant from The George Washington School of Medicine in 1995. She practiced in New York City, Washington DC, and Philadelphia before settling in Durham. She has been with Women’s Health Alliance, Durham since 2005. Her special interests are adolescent medicine, obstetrics, and weight management. Michele is an expert in colposcopy (care and treatment of the abnormal pap smear), and she speaks Spanish.
Michele has a loyal patient following in general, and particularly among Roxboro residents because of the years she spent at our former Roxboro location. She is still an integral part of that community and stays in touch with many of her clients there.
Michele loves the fact that WHA patients have so many choices available to them for their care: midwives, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, OB doctors, and gynecologists. She has always known that she would work in a field that empowered women, and at Women’s Health Alliance Durham along with her participation in the midwifery and centering program, it is, to use her words, “a dream come true!”
Cheryl Carroll, CNM, PHPNP, MSN
Cheryl Carroll’s midwifery experience could easily fill an entire book. She has decades of remarkable accomplishments in the field of midwifery, labor, delivery and patient care. She has touched and enhanced hundreds of women’s birth experiences in the Raleigh/Durham, NC area.
Her life’s work was foreshadowed when Cheryl was in the second grade. She had a dream that she was delivering a baby. Decades later, at the community hospital that would soon become a second home to her, Cheryl realized that the very first room at Duke Regional Hospital in which she began her new career, life, and passion was the same room she had dreamed about in second grade.
Cheryl has a unique approach to midwifery care, and her certifications are far beyond those of the typical nurse midwife. Shortly after entering the midwifery field, Cheryl observed that when patients suffered depression or mental illness, the emotional pain interfered with what could be an otherwise simple prenatal and birth process. Cheryl wanted to be professionally equipped to facilitate women’s ability to move through and past negative patterns and emotional upheavals that consume a great deal of their lives. Therefore, to enhance her ability to serve Women’s Health Alliance’s patients, she pursued and received certification for adult psychiatric mental health.
While there have been many midwives of African descent in the state of North Carolina, Cheryl is the third African-American Certified Nurse Midwife. Linda Carter King was the first. Pamela Reis was the second; she graduated from East Carolina University two weeks before Cheryl graduated from Medical University of South Carolina, so Pam took her boards first. Cheryl is the first African-American midwife to serve women at Duke Regional Hospital.
Cheryl views Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance as a practice that is growing from the inside out. The core values of the group manifest themselves as a result. Cheryl knows she is working with a group of men and women who value each other, their patients, and the relationships between each other and their patients. It’s not about “this is me and this is what I can do.” Rather, “This is us, and see the level of care we’re able to produce for our patients by working together collectively, collaboratively, and cooperatively!’
Here are just a few of Cheryl’s varied hobbies and interests: playing musical instruments to entertain herself and her grandchildren; jewelry making; Nascar driving classes; practicing at the shooting range; travel with family to exotic, new, and exciting places; animals (as long as she doesn’t have to bring them home to her house!); cooking; time with her grandkids; and dancing!
Cheryl also plans to go back to school for divinity. “Sometimes what is written on the paper when new and returning patients come to see us does not betray the real reason for their visit.” Cheryl senses that a divinity degree will further complete her holistic approach to Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance patients’ needs. Her goal is to be able to reach out and touch patients where they can most benefit from her talents. Cheryl believes that the specific health needs are critical, but they are not separate from a woman’s mental and spiritual health. In Cheryl, our midwifery patients find a unique blend of nurse, counselor, and minister.
Cheryl is a native of Warrenton, NC. She earned her BSN degree (cum laude) from North Carolina Central University in Durham. Her midwifery certification and MSN come from the Medical University of South Carolina, and she joined Women’s Health Alliance (PKA Durham Women’s Clinic) in 1994. Cheryl’s post master’s certificate is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she prepared for her current board certification as an Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Sue Holliday, CNM, MSN
Sue is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and the Thomason University of Health Sciences.
A native of the upper peninsula of Michigan, she became a world traveler while completing a career in the United States Army Nurse Corps. Her team building attributes include an acumen of flexibility, love of the scientific process, and diversity of thought.
Leigh Ann Joel, BSN, CNM
Leigh Ann joined Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance in March 2012, as yet another certified nurse midwife who describes her career as a calling. Leigh Ann knew when she was nine years old that she wanted to deliver babies when she grew up. She went to nursing school with the goal of becoming a nurse midwife.
After completing her BSN at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Leigh Ann worked in Boston for two years in surgical oncology and gynecology. She then worked in labor and delivery, postpartum, newborn nursery, and as a childbirth educator for eight years. Midwifery school was the next logical step because of Leigh Ann’s passion for birth. With the midwifery model of care, she could provide presence and support for her patients, in addition to helping them stay safe and healthy.
Leigh Ann then worked in Florida at a community hospital for seven years before moving to NC, where she worked at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill. Women’s Birth and Wellness Center is a freestanding birth center caring for low-risk women who desire out-of-hospital birth. Leigh Ann has learned many tricks and alternatives for pregnancy discomforts and for helping babies to come out. She also has extensive experience with breastfeeding support.
Leigh Ann joined Midwifery at WHA in mid-March 2012 because she values physician backup within the safety of a hospital setting. She also appreciates the small, personal size of Duke Regional Hospital and looks forward to seeing the families she supports in her own community. She enjoys providing personalized care, and empowering women to make their own informed choices in childbirth.
Leigh Ann’s hobbies and tastes include hiking in the NC mountains; Zumba; house painting projects; baking (but not cooking); playing the piano (only at the holidays); caramel, and coffee. She loves watching musicals and dance, and will tell you emphatically that Wicked is the best musical ever.
She and her husband Gregg live in Durham and have two children, Sam and Anna, and a cat, Mobo.
Mary Ellen Lowry, CNM, CLC, MSN
Mary Ellen Lowry’s awareness of midwifery happened entirely by chance. When she was having the first of her four children, she was seeing a physician group that included midwives. One day, her physician was out unexpectedly and Mary Ellen was given the choice of rescheduling her appointment or seeing one of the midwives. Her experience with the midwife was so delightful that it became the last time she ever scheduled an appointment with a physician. It was also a turning point in her career.
Though Mary Ellen was nervous about going to the hospital, when she arrived, her nurse midwife was, to quote Mary Ellen, “absolutely wonderful.” She felt that the midwife was genuinely interested in her as a person, and what she had to say. Mary Ellen also found that the midwife did far more than just focus on a belly.
Mary Ellen’s philosophy of midwifery developed and grew as she gave birth to each of her four children. She learned that women could be in control of their health, and in control of how health providers care for them. She also concluded that health care should not be something done to a woman, but instead, initiated by the patient.
Her birth experiences were so empowering that Mary Ellen decided it was her calling to ensure that regardless of what women choose to do (pain meds/no pain meds, surgery/no surgery, specific birthing styles such as water birth or bed birth, standing birth or crouching birth) they should be empowered as a result of their birth experience. “I was able to benefit from making my own decisions and follow through with them when I gave birth, so I want the same benefits and options available to all women.”
Mary Ellen understands that though each woman’s path is different and not all women will have babies, it is still possible for women to be empowered about their health care choices and their place in the world. “When I have a teenager come to see me for their first physical, I put all my attention towards educating that young woman about choices available to them and how they can manage and control their own health and destiny.” This is the big picture and vision Mary Ellen carries forward as she illuminates the path that is available to all women, and easy to access with the support of a nurse midwife.
Mary Ellen is very clear that midwifery is her calling. “When you follow your calling, you never go to work; your life is your work.”
Mary Ellen is a native of Raleigh, NC and a Sanderson High School graduate. She received her Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Catawba Valley Community College in 1994 and her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC in 1995. After graduation, Mary Ellen worked as a nurse at Frye Regional Hospital in all areas of women’s health, including the special care nursery, labor and delivery, and as a certified lactation consultant.
Mary Ellen returned to school for midwifery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and graduated in 2002 with a MS in Midwifery. As a nurse midwife, she first worked with Women’s Care Specialists in Lenoir, NC. She then became a member of the midwives’ practice at Duke University. Her four grown children and three grandchildren are Mary Ellen’s greatest accomplishment.
Cara Wolf, CNM, MSN
Cara joined Midwifery at WHA in January 2015 and practices at all three of our locations: Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, NC. She is a nursing graduate of Carolinas College of Health Sciences and completed her BSN at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. She completed her Nurse-Midwifery education at the University of Cincinnati while training under midwives in her community of Anchorage.
Cara is excited to be back in North Carolina after spending the last eight years as a labor and delivery nurse in Anchorage, Alaska. She attributes her inspiration for becoming a CNM to the nurses, nurse-midwives, physicians, and patients she worked with while there. She loves the uniqueness of midwifery care, including educating and supporting women throughout their lives. Her special interests include family planning, breastfeeding, and the transition to motherhood.
In her time off, you can find Cara, her husband Dan, and their “wolfpack” exploring Durham, camping in their RV, or visiting family. Cara is thrilled to now call Durham home with her husband and three children, Greta, Susanna, and Henry.
Patient Education Coordinator
Anne Brand, CNM, MSN
Patient Education Coordinator
Anne knew when she was six years old that she would be a midwife. When her mom was pregnant with Anne's younger sister, Anne accompanied her to prenatal visits and Lamaze classes. She also watched a video called “The Miracle of Life” and was on the edge of her seat the entire time. She attended the births of many friends and family members, and ultimately decided to make midwifery her career. Currently, Anne is working exclusively in the area of community outreach as our Project Coordinator and Childbirth Educator.
Anne graduated with her BS in Nursing from UNC-Charlotte. She then started her nursing career as a labor and delivery nurse at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Jualeah Early, CNM was her mentor. Anne feels that it is an honor to attend a birth and she fights back tears of joy every time a new baby is born.
Anne’s husband is a cardiothoracic surgical resident at UNC and they have two beautiful little girls, who routinely have baby dolls under their shirts as they pretend to be midwifery patients.
Cindy Womble has been a part of the Women’s Health Alliance since 1998 and has been with the Durham Women’s Clinic since March 2003. She has gained extensive experience in the medical profession since 1994. Cindy obtained her certification as a Certified Professional Coder in April 2002, and attends annual conferences to maintain her credentials. Cindy graduated from North Carolina Wesleyan College where she earned a double major in Business Administration and Accounting.
When Cindy's away from the office, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, friends and fur babies. She also enjoys shopping, reading, and exercising during her down time.
Administrative, Front Desk Coordinator
Administrative, Team Member Since 2015
Administrative, Insurance Liaison
Ruth Vega Gee
Administrative, Insurance Coordinator
Helen Britton, LPN
Marion Carden, LPN
Clinical, Nurse Manager
Marion Carden has been serving our patients at Durham Women's Clinic since 1984 and currently holds the title of Nurse Manager. Marion takes pride in her work performance and seeks to give every patient the care that will go above and beyond their expectations.
Marion attended Brevard College, Durham Technical Community College and completed a pharmacology course at the University of Chapel Hill. Marion enjoys spending time with her family, fur babies and of course, her horses during her down time.
Whitney Hamlet, CNA
Cheri Mitchiner, CMA
Clinical, Certified Medical Assistant
Cheri is our CMA (Certified Medical Assistant). She travels along with us to the location(s) we are serving on any given day. Cheri joined us in February 2015, and we find we cannot operate without her. She is always smiling, very friendly, and ever calm. Cheri has a wonderful singing voice and a darling daughter named Saniya.
Anna Oakley, CMA
Clinical, OB Nurse Manager Triage
Deborah Yeargan, LPN