2020 NBCC Awardees 

Each year the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) offers a limited number of awards to support the participation of cultural, tribal, and emerging breastfeeding leaders at the National Breastfeeding Conference and Convening (NBCC).  

These awards are one component of the USBC's ongoing efforts to recognize and promote the efforts of individuals who dedicate their service to communities with breastfeeding rates below the U.S. national average rates. While we may not be having an in-person gathering this year, we honor the incredible work of the 2020 awardees who were chosen before the cancellation. Congratulations to this year's selected awardees!

Emerging Leader Awardees

Emerging Leader awardees are individuals who are new or aspiring leaders in the breastfeeding field and must provide lactation protection, promotion, or support services in their community or be active members of a state, territorial, tribal, local, or cultural breastfeeding coalition in the United States.

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Hannah Halliwell, California

Hannah Halliwell has worked supporting women and children as an advocate and educator for over a decade. Since 2008, she has worked as a birth/postpartum doula, childbirth educator, and lactation consultant throughout Los Angeles County. Currently, Hannah works as a Program Coordinator and Faculty Educator with BreastfeedLA, on the perinatal education team at Eisner's Women's Health Center, and as a community-based doula/lactation consultant on the Frontline Doula project. Hannah's approach to supporting families during their transition into parenthood is strength-based and focuses on informed decision making, building self-efficacy, and developing communication skills. Driven by an ardent belief in the inherent dignity of all people, Hannah seeks to increase the number of safe spaces for women and children of color, particularly during major life transitions such as childbirth and early parenting. As a teacher and mentor, she strives to advance the understanding that breast/chestfeeding is a vital piece of increasing health for whole communities, and therefore a crucial public health intervention, particularly for underserved groups.

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Pa Houa Shasky, Minnesota

Pa Houa Shasky is a second-generation Hmong American woman who graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in Food Science Nutrition and started her public health career in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). As a WIC nutritionist, she worked closely with Hmong families who had children from birth to age five and became a breastfeeding advocate. Currently, Pa is a Health Educator with Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health and is co-leading the department's breastfeeding work with the implementation of Baby Café USA sessions throughout Ramsey County, MN and convening the Twin Cities Regional Breastfeeding Coalition which has the footprint of Dakota, Hennepin, and Ramsey County. Through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership grant, Pa formed partnerships with the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition, the state WIC Program, and breastfeeding advocates from the Hmong community to co-lead the Hmong Breastfeeding Project. In her free time, Pa enjoys going on walks and bike rides with her family and she is a novice at gardening and home canning.


Tribal Trailblazer Awardees

Tribal Trailblazer awardees are individuals who are actively involved in collaborative efforts to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding in Native communities. This honor is for individuals of American Indian/Native American, and Alaska Native heritage.

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Takayla Lightfield, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, South Dakota

Takayla Lightfield is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Mnicoujou Lakota band. She is a certified doula, Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor, and perinatal educator who primarily works with American Indian families living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the surrounding area. She is also the Co-leader of the Indigenous Breastfeeding Coalition of Minnesota. Takayla's full-time job is as a Family Spirit Home Visitor at the Division of Indian Work. She is also a doula with the Division of Indian Work's Ninde (My Heart) Program.

Takayla always knew that breastfeeding was important and there was no question she would breastfeed her children. Her daughter was born four years ago, and it was through her own breastfeeding journey -- both the struggles and the successes -- that she realized she wanted to support other people who were choosing to provide breast milk to their children, however that looks to each family: whether it is feeding at the chest or breast, exclusively pumping, or through donor milk. 

Being cross-trained as an Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor, doula, and home visitor helps ensure she can provide ongoing breastfeeding support to families from pregnancy, the first latch after birth, then throughout the first three years of life, or whatever their breastfeeding goal may be. She will be starting the Masters of Public Health Advanced Standing Maternal Child Health program at the University of Minnesota in the fall and hopes to work more on breastfeeding policies in the future.

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Anita Mihtukwsun, Mohican Tribe, Wisconsin

Anita Mihtukwsun is an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe, Band of the Mohicans, located in Wisconsin. She lives in Wisconsin with her four sons and works full time at the Stockbridge-Munsee Health & Wellness Center as a CHR/WIC Clerk. She is a Certified Lactation Specialist, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, and a member of the Native Breastfeeding Coalition of Wisconsin. Anita credits her mother for inspiration as her mother had breastfed six children, including a set of twins, and has been a source of support on her own journey as a mom of four. She feels it's important to educate communities, normalize breastfeeding, and help nursing mothers, especially those in the workforce with the extra challenges they may face. Anita thanks her team and community for working together to support and encourage the unique bond between nursing mothers and babies.

Cultural Changemaker Awardees

Cultural Changemaker awardees are individuals who are actively involved in collaborative efforts to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding in culturally distinct communities through service to a cultural coalition or community-based organization and are members of the cultural group that they serve.

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Whitney Dula, Maryland 

Whitney Dula is a native-born Marylander, having lived in the DMV region her entire life. She began her journey into lactation support after noticing a lack of providers in her immediate area, particularly any providers that looked like her. She's been a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist since 2019, working for the Babies Born Healthy Program in Montgomery County as a lactation counselor providing prenatal breastfeeding education and postpartum support. In addition to her counselor duties, Whitney is extremely involved with the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, serving on the Board of Directors as an At-Large Member. Her advocacy focuses on closing the gaps in maternal/infant mortality, increasing Black breastfeeding rates and education, increasing the number of lactation professionals of color, and working for paid family leave. In January 2020, Whitney was appointed to the inaugural Advisory Board for USLCA, working to improve support, access, and equity for all lactation professionals.

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Jada Metcalf, Maryland

Jada Metcalf created Milk + Honey Co. LLC in 2017 to provide holistic, evidence-based practice and techniques to families for a soft transition into parenthood. She specializes in lactation and perinatal care, encouraging healthy women to trust their maternal instincts through pregnancy and beyond, through support and education.

The Maternity Boob-tik concept came to fruition after breastfeeding her two boys. With one failed attempt and one successful 13-month breastfeeding journey, Jada recognized that the difference in both journeys was a combination of lack of education, culturally competent consultants, and community support. This inspired her to become a community postpartum doula and a certified R.O.S.E. Community Transformer as a breastfeeding peer counselor hosting free local support groups in surrounding underrepresented communities of color. With the lack of lactation consultants of color, Jada also founded the "Future IBCLCs of Color" to help mitigate low Black breastfeeding rates. It now boasts more than 700 members. In addition to being a veteran wife and mom, Jada received her certification as a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist through Lactation Education Resources and worked as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Jada is currently in training to obtain a license as an IBCLC through a mentorship program at a local breastfeeding clinic.

Jada aims to create a space for mothers to boost maternal confidence and rely on their maternal instincts garnering unwavering support through T.E.A. which stands for "Talk about your concerns, Educate yourself on solutions, and Affirm the great job you're doing."