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Staff Team

 

Nikia Sankofa, Executive Director

Nikia received her Bachelors of Science in Chemistry at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. She later matriculated through the Master of Public Affairs program at Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where she concentrated on Environmental Policy. Nikia also has a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she concentrated in Women’s Reproductive Health and earned certificates in Health Disparities and Health Communication. Focusing mainly on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, Nikia's public health work encompasses a broad range of functions, including, multi-site project management and team leadership; program design, monitoring and evaluation; data management and analysis; advocacy; and delivery of training and technical assistance. Nikia directed a community-based participatory research study that blended social, behavioral, and biomedical approaches to examine how stressors or resiliency factors influence and interact with biological factors to affect maternal and child health.

As the director of an infant mortality reduction initiative in Baltimore City, Nikia oversaw the provision of intensive case management services consisting of recruitment, home-visiting, and parenting education to improve the health and wellness of women and families. Most recently, Nikia served as Project Director for breastfeeding at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. This project aims to increase implementation of evidence-based breastfeeding programs, practices, and services at the community level, specifically focusing on peer and professional lactation support to breastfeeding mothers in predominantly African American and/or underserved communities. The project also supports communities in developing public health partnerships critical to building community support for breastfeeding.

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Amelia Psmythe Seger, Deputy Director

A skilled facilitator and experienced advocate, Amelia applies servant leadership values to collaborative work, centering growth of trust in relationships and shared learning, while building strategic alliances to advance collective goals. As part of her Deputy Director roles, Amelia supports the formation and development of USBC's Constellations – topic-specific collaboratives of organizations working through an equity lens to achieve large-scale policy, systems, and environmental change. Amelia began her career in public health first as a breastfeeding peer counselor and then as the Executive Director of Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon, where her grassroots organizing efforts grew the organization's membership, funding, community visibility, and impact.

As founding Executive Director of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon, she supported local and state coalition development; implementation of workplace law; statewide hospital practice improvement; synergistic insurance investment; donor milk banking; and worked with the Oregon Office of Equity and Inclusion to create Medicaid reimbursement of doulas. Amelia joined USBC in 2012, participating in leadership during a time of rapid growth that included adoption of Collective Impact principles and a racial equity journey that transformed the structure and culture of the organization. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their multi-generational household of six, aged 20-86.

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Denae Schmidt, Senior Membership & Coalitions Manager

Denae Schmidt serves as Senior Membership & Coalitions Manager at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. Denae joined the USBC in 2014 as Coalition Relations Coordinator and now oversees administration, implementation, and strategic planning for activities and services to USBC member organizations and State, Territorial, Tribal, local and cultural breastfeeding coalitions. She supported the transformation of the USBC membership, the expansion of USBC member benefits, and the day-to-day operation of the organization. She earned a Master of Public Health from Mercer University and a bachelor's in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida. Denae has a background in community health and lives in California with her husband and son, who the team affectionately titled "the official spokesbaby of the USBC."

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Cheryl Lebedevitch, Senior Advocacy & Communications Manager

Cheryl Lebedevitch serves as Senior Advocacy & Communications Manager at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. Cheryl leads USBC advocacy and communications teams and serves as Steward of the Workplace Support Constellation. She serves as Editor-In-Chief of the weekly e-Newsletter, Staying Abreast: Weekly Wire, and is a contributing author to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion report, "The Role of Law and Policy in Assisting Families to Reach Healthy People's Maternal, Infant, and Child Health Breastfeeding Goals in the United States." Cheryl joined the USBC in 2009 and has held many titles and responsibilities during her time with the organization. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed an undergraduate fellowship at the Newberry Library. Cheryl lives on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with her husband and two children, who can frequently be spotted at USBC events.

Camille Abbe, Campaign & Convening Manager

Camille Abbe serves as Campaign and Convening Manager at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. With a background in public relations and event planning, Camille coordinates the design and implementation of USBC fundraising and advocacy campaigns and manages the logistics for online and in-person convenings, including USBC Constellation workgroups. Her projects also include design, coordination, and rollout of the National Breastfeeding Conference & Convening, National Breastfeeding Month, and the USBC Annual Report. Camille joined the USBC in 2014, having previously served as a birth doula, advocate, and as coordinator for the annual conference for the Midwives Alliance of North America for almost a decade. Camille lives in Massachusetts, and is also a certified yoga instructor focused on supporting each person on their journey.

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Alyssa Speece, Membership Program Manager

Alyssa Speece serves as Membership Program Manager at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. Alyssa coordinates the USBC Membership program, supports a range of volunteer committees, including the Membership Engagement Committee, and brings a membership perspective to the staff advocacy and conference planning teams. Alyssa joined the USBC in 2017 as the Constellation Program Manager. She has a Master of Public Health in Global Health with an emphasis on Maternal and Child Health, and previously served as a student midwife, doula, and childbirth educator. Alyssa lives in Oregon, where she enjoys crafting, spending time with her animals, and renovating her 1920s cottage home. 

Sarah Walz, Senior Communications & Program Coordinator

Sarah Walz is the Senior Communications & Program Coordinator at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. Sarah curates and develops visual and written content for USBC communications channels, including newsletters, social media, advocacy materials, and webpages. She also develops promotional materials, including biannual state breastfeeding reports, the annual report, and national conference promotion. Sarah received a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Carleton College, where she completed a collection of poetry that explored generational story-telling and personal narrative. A Chicago-area native, Sarah currently lives on the North Side. Outside of work, she spends her time baking, crafting, and puzzling, and she volunteers for Chicago Books for Women in Prison.

Miriam Rodriguez, Coalition Relations Coordinator

Miriam Rodriguez serves as Coalitions Relations Coordinator at the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. With the organization since 2018, Miriam supports capacity building programs and services for State, Territorial, Tribal, local and cultural breastfeeding coalitions. In addition, she assists in the planning and execution of the National Breastfeeding Conference and Convening, and supports volunteer committees including the Conference Program Committee and the CRASH Committee. Miriam holds a master’s in International Public Service from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Born and raised in Chicago’s South Side, Miriam continues to live in Chicago and enjoys photography, painting, and yoga, and especially traveling to visit her family in Mexico.

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