Meet our Staff
Brenda Spearman earned a Masters of Business Administration from Western Governor’s University and a Bachelor of Science in Social Science from the University of Utah. She has worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations including the National MS Society, the American Red Cross, and the University of Utah Hospital. She has a passion for creating and growing nonprofit organizations and has recently founded a charter school in her community of Stansbury Park. Brenda is currently an elected board member of the Stansbury Service Agency. She believes in fiscal responsibility, transparency and utilizing volunteers to further the mission and vision of organizations.
In 1997, 18 months after Brenda married her husband, Mike, they were diagnosed with male factor infertility. At the time there was little information readily available and support was nonexistent. They struggled individually and as a couple with this new reality. Mike offered to divorce her, so she could marry someone that was “whole.” They worked hard to keep this trial from damaging their relationship. In the spring of 1999 they started their first IVF with ICSI cycle. In 2000, they were blessed with a baby girl as well as 10 frozen embryos. Two years later they were able to transfer 4 of those embryos and Brenda successfully carried twin girls to term. They decided to try for a boy and after a second live IVF-ICSI cycle they were blessed with another set of girl twins. They had one additional frozen embryo that they transferred which did not result in a pregnancy.
Over the last 19 years Brenda has been very open about her family’s struggles and their journey with infertility. Brenda finds great comfort in sharing her experiences and listening to other couples and individuals as they walk through this difficult time. She understands how important it is to encourage men and women to be their own health advocates throughout these journeys.
Brenda Bates Spearman, MBA
Whitney Barrell, LCSW
Whitney Barrell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at Sonoma State University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She is the Clinical Director for Utah Infertility Resource Center, she oversees the clinical programs and provides supervision to therapists. She provides counseling and third-party consultations to clients of UIRC. Whitney is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine - Mental Health Practitioners Group.
In addition to her work at UIRC, she maintains a private practice in Salt Lake City. She specializes in treating men and women who have experienced infertility, as well as the accompanying grief and loss that often occurs. In her private practice she also treats children dealing with mental health issues, and has a particular interest in parent-child relationship issues, attachment and adoption.
Prior to starting her own practice, she worked as a therapist for Valley Mental Health in the Children’s Outpatient Clinic and focused her work with young children. Early in her career she spent several months in Kenya volunteering in orphanages and women’s centers.
Whitney is passionate about helping to build a healthy, informed community around infertility. She comes to infertility counseling with both clinical training and personal experience. After undergoing unsuccessful infertility treatments, Whitney and her husband chose to build their family through open adoption.
Annie Hamilton, CSW
Annie Hamilton is a Certified Social Worker (CSW) who received her Master’s of Social Work from Utah State University and her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah.
Prior to her work at UIRC, Annie worked for Salt Lake City School District as a Pre-K Teacher and as a Parent Educator. Throughout this experience, Annie had the chance to help families optimize their relationships and become the best parents they can be. This was when Annie knew she wanted to be a social worker and decided to go back to school for her Masters in Social Work.
Annie came to UIRC during her third year of graduate school seeking an internship, and is so grateful they decided to give her that opportunity and still gets to work with UIRC as the Program Coordinator. From her own experience with infertility, Annie gained a passion for helping others during their family-building journey. Working with UIRC has given her the unique opportunity to interact with others in the infertility community. She loves the chances she has to meet individuals and couples at events, support groups, and through counseling. It has given her a sense of hope and connection in her own infertility journey.
In her free time, Annie loves to travel, do yoga, garden, sing, sleep, and find out how to make incredible gluten-free desserts. When she isn’t doing these things, she is spending time with her husband and two children.
Aupera Van Huizen has dealt with infertility for 15 years. She and her husband were diagnosed with male factor infertility as well as diminished ovarian reserve. Aupera has undergone three rounds of IVF, two of which were successful, resulting in two sets of twins. Sadly, her newborn son from the first set of twins passed away shortly after birth. Aupera was completely devastated and heart-broken. She and her husband also added to their family through a kinship foster adoption.
Aupera graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology in 2014 from the University of Utah. She anticipates receiving a graduate degree one day. Aupera is specifically drawn to help those grieving from infertility and a perinatal loss, as they often occur together.
In 2013, Aupera started the first state-wide support group, The Utah Infertility Support Group Facebook page, as a way for people struggling with infertility to connect on a local level. There she met Camille Hawkins. Together, in 2014, Camille and Aupera began The SLC Women’s Infertility Support Group which has grown to a large network of support for women in the Wasatch Front.
Aupera spends the majority of her time at home with her children and also works outside the home. Aupera enjoys spending time in the mountains with her family, riding four-wheelers and camping. Aupera is excited to see UIRC grow and become an amazing resource for the infertility community of Utah.
Support Group Coordinator
Aupera Van Huizen, BS
M'Recia Seegmiller, SSW
M’Recia Seegmiller is a licensed Social Service Worker who graduated from Utah State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
After graduation, M’Recia spent several years working with the elderly and disabled in Nursing Homes and through Home Health Companies. Through these roles, M’Recia learned patience, compassion for others, and how to think on her feet! M’Recia’s professional experience also includes working with children and families through her internship at the Child and Family Support Center in Logan. and working as a Teaching Assistant for the Social Work Department at USU.
Right now, M’Recia is working her dream job. Her role with UIRC allows her to work from home with her two sons playing at her feet.
Her dream of motherhood was put on hold for several years by her struggle with infertility. After learning that her husband’s history of cancer and chemotherapy had left them shooting blanks, she started reaching out to others and started an online infertility support group. M’Recia’s connections have taught her that those who suffer from infertility are the strongest people in the word. After 4 long years, countless doctor appointments, and a diagnosis of PCOS and endometriosis, M’Recia experienced a true miracle in the adoption of her son. 2 years later, M'Recia received the surprise of her life. Even though the doctors said they had less than 1% chance of ever conceiving on their own, she found out she was expecting.
M’Recia loves living life with her husband Brent,her sons Patrick and Reuben, and golden retriever. She is passionate about photography, music, and traveling. She is honored to be a part of UIRC and loves seeing people's lives change for the better.
Mandy Nielsen was born and raised in Santa Monica California, and remains a beach loving girl at heart. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2004 with a degree in Political Science. After graduating she served a Spanish speaking mission for the LDS Church, and upon her return started working for The Walt Disney Company as an intellectual property paralegal in California and then Washington, D.C. Mandy's first son, Mason, was born in 2009 and she took a break from working for a few years. In 2013 Mandy began work with Dallas based NCircle Entertainment in their marketing department as a brand manager and social media manager. She has continued to work in social media marketing since that time and has worked with variety of companies to help them grow their brand and social media presence.
Mandy's struggle with secondary infertility began shortly after the birth of her son. After moving to Utah in 2014, she began volunteering with UIRC's advocacy committee to combine her professional and personal experience. When a spot opened up on the UIRC team to work in marketing, she jumped at the opportunity and has loved meeting members of the infertility community and working with the amazing UIRC staff.
After years of infertility and treatments, Mandy and her family welcomed a little girl, Hope, through IVF in 2018. Now, Mandy is busy with homework and PTA meetings for her 9 year old, and juggling a newborn. In her spare moments Mandy loves napping, spending time with her husband, playing the piano, and reading.
Maddie Thomas is our new Masters of Social Work intern from Utah State University! She graduated from the University of Utah in 2015 with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor Science in Gender Studies. After finishing her degrees, she was a preschool teacher for a few years, until deciding to go back to school to pursue social work. Maddie came to UIRC because of her desire to support couples on their infertility journey. In her free time she likes to hang out with her cats, listen to podcasts, and watch scary movies.