About us

Marianne Kolkena MSc, IBCLC

Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief   

Why do some people encounter so many illnesses and adversities? Why do others seemingly float through life in good health, relaxed and satisfied? Marianne’s early years and a book about the meaning of disease made her curious about answers to this question.
During a stay in the labour ward after her third home delivery, she saw many young mothers struggling to heed their instinctive, intuitive knowledge. They seemed to have difficulty holding, breastfeeding, and cherishing their babies confidently. Therefore, she entered the field of lactation, in which breastfeeding gradually became less of a goal and more a means towards a healthy start. Personally and professionally she became more aware of the importance of the early stages for health and happiness by the exciting concept of ‘psychoneuroimmuno-endocrinology’. This means that humans are organisms in which hearts and minds, bodies and souls are one integrated whole, shaping who and how we are.
During her (medical) anthropology studies, Marianne noticed the intertwinement of physiology with sociocultural factors and power relations. The origin and prevention of toxic stress thus grew into a more societal topic.
In the concept of ACEs, all this knowledge converges. This is why Marianne wants to cooperate with all relevant disciplines to increase awareness around the impact of adverse experiences in childhood. Then, the importance of connection, compassion and curiosity also becomes more clear. Children thrive on nurturing relationships, on true love and honest attention. Adults do, too, by the way. Therefore, a sharper focus on solid relationships and acknowledging basic needs supports building resilient people and flourishing communities.
Besides her work, Marianne loves reading, writing poetry, photography, taking long walks, gardening and doing different kinds of needlework and spending time with the (grand)children.


Petra Bouma IBCLC, RN

Graphic Design

Petra has been mesmerised by the early beginnings all of her life. Instinctively she has always known that the 'first 1000 days' are a critical period in a human life. She has worked in a maternity and delivery ward for over 30 years, first as a nurse and later as a lactation consultant. At that workplace she thought it was fantastic to be able to be present at the birth and to be able to support the beginning of a new life.
She was also fascinated by the fact that it seems to become increasingly difficult to give birth and breastfeed 'normally'. She was surprised that the natural 'mammalian behaviour' through which humanity has survived through the ages, so often seems to malfunction.
During her training as a birth trauma therapist, more and more things started to become clear. It is not that women cannot give birth and breastfeed. The main problem is that there is too little attention for the natural, inner knowing of the mother; as a result, her physiological processes get disturbed. This can lead to a cascade of consequences. It starts with the fact that when a mother is not feeling relaxed in her own skin, she is less able to attune to herself and her child. This has an impact on children, who then often do not feel seen or heard in their needs. In adulthood, this can manifest itself in physical and psychological issues. As the eldest child of a mother with mental health problems, Petra also has personal experience with ACEs and that was an important motivation to delve further into the topic.
In addition to being a lactation consultant and registered nurse, Petra is also a babywearing consultant and birth trauma therapist.
She makes the visuals for the blogs for ACE Aware NL.
In her free time, Petra likes to travel. She is also interested in photography and is a sculptor, with a focus on the female body and mother-child interaction.


Victor Andrei Bodiut MSc


Vic has his roots in Romania and studied together with Marianne in Amsterdam. Based on a safe and happy childhood he developed a deep sensitivity and interest towards fellow humans and other living beings. With his daily work, he strives for a tangible positive impact on other people’s lives. Trained in social and brain sciences, with experience in academic and global health research, and keen on bridging the gap between science and society, Vic co-founded the ACE Aware NL project together with Marianne in 2020. He is particularly interested in the mental health components and other consequences of ACEs and trauma. He pushes towards well-informed national and international policies targeted to prevent this kind of adversity.
In his free time, Vic is a tennis player and coach, freelancer, photography hobbyist, non-serious writer of short poetry, passionate about the environment, astronomy, philosophy, and arts.


Aspa Kandyli MA


Aspa Kandyli ACE Aware NL

Aspa Kandyli is a Greek-Dutch living in Loosdrecht. She is a teacher by training and at heart. She holds a BA in Education from the University of Athens and an MA in American Studies/Sociology (with a focus on race, ethnicity, and identity formation) from the Utrecht University. She had worked for over a decade with children of different ages as a baby and a private tutor in Greece and as a high school teacher in the Netherlands.

After the birth of her daughter in 2017, Aspa was immersed in the world of perinatal health and early life mental health. She realized then and there that in order to grow healthy children, a major shift needs to happen in child-rearing, adult support (especially in at-risk populations), and in society as a whole.

She is a Certified Sleep Consultant (working from a trauma-informed and responsive parenting perspective), a Certified Lifestyle Medicine Advisor (ELMO), and an Attached at the Heart Parent Educator (API).

Her interest in ACEs lies in the mental health aspects, and in particular in applications of ACEs knowledge in parenting and in the classroom and other education settings. Her mission is to bridge the gap between academic knowledge shared in journals and conferences by scientists on the effects of toxic stress on child development and in adulthood and what is shared by media outlets. She works to bring this knowledge to the people who need it the most: parents, educators, and laypeople.

Besides her work, Aspa loves spending time with her family, reading, traveling, and photography.