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2021 & 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 were unable to hold an in-person conference last year we want to honor the incredible work of both the newly selected 2021 awardees and the 2020 awardees who were chosen before the cancellation last March. Congratulations to all of the awardees!

Read about the 2020 Awardees

2021 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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Stacy Yeager-Okosi, Kansas

Dr. Stacy Yeager-Okosi, known to her community as Mama Stacy, is the founder, and Executive Director of Black Families DO Breastfeed, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating health outcome disparities in maternal health in African-American online and local communities. She holds a Doctoral degree in Business. Dr. Yeager-Okosi is the creator of the Breastfeeding Support Group for Black Moms (an online peer to peer community of over 100,000 women, providing education to pregnant and breastfeeding Moms and their female family members and Daddy Can Do: Fathers of Breastfed Babies). She is project coordinator for African-American Breastfeeding Coalition of Wyandotte County, is certified as a facilitator for Chocolate Milk Café, and peer lactation consultant.
As an entrepreneur she is in the top 6% of her company and leads a team of women in a developing national area team within Mary Kay. Dr. Yeager-Okosi has been featured over 10 times in the Applause Magazine. Adding to her leadership skills, she was appointed as the Master of Business Administration College of Management Director at Park University and the coordinator for the Human Resources division. Yeager sits on the Board of Education for the Kansas City Kansas School District. She is a member of the Kansas City, Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition (coalition made of breastfeeding educators throughout the community), Mo/Kan Breastfeeding Coalition (community-led coalition to promote and protect breastfeeding in our community). Yeager-Okosi recently lead the African-American Breastfeeding Coalition to completing their community supporting breastfeeding designation awarded by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. In 2020, Dr. Yeager-Okosi has expanded to include two additional outreach programs in Kansas in the cities of Topeka and Wichita. The intent of these groups is to provide peer-to-peer, evidence-based virtual and local support for Black women. She speaks nationally on the topics of Leadership, Empowerment, and Black maternal health.

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Rosa Sisneros Jimenzez, New Mexico

Rosa is a Mexican Immigrant, and has been living in the US for 13 years. She is married and has 4 children, she is been working as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for New Mexico WIC for 7 years.  Through out her years counseling mothers, she became aware that some mothers were not seeking the help they deserve because the fear of being separated from their children if they asked for help with their immigration status, a fear she experienced herself when she was pregnant with her first child. She started The Hub City Breastfeeders support group to serve mothers in her community and is opened to all public. She encourages and helps parents to advocate for themselves and their right to choose the way they choose to feed their babies, she provides information, and basic breastfeeding education to anyone that asks for help in her support group. In 2019 she decided to start a local Chapter under the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force.   She serves as the Chair officer on the Valencia County Chapter, with the help of the other members, the chapter has brought events to the community like arts and crafts nights, where mothers can create their own art, talk about breastfeeding and raising children, and during the pandemic a drive thru World Breastfeeding Week celebration. In her free times she created clay jewelry to offer as prizes and incentives for her support group and the Valencia County Chapter.


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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Tammy Dixon, Fond du Lac Reservation Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Wisconsin

Hello Friends, my name is Tammy Dixon I am from Fond du Lac Reservation in Cloquet, MN. I am married for 24 years to Todd Dixon and we have a 15 year old daughter Bridget who I had at 40 and is the reason I am a Doula, I loved every moment of my pregnancy I loved the birth energy. I've been a Doula for about 12 years during that time I have assisted 150-200 clients assisted them by offering with prenatal education, creating their birth plans, offering labor and delivery support, and breastfeeding support to single, twin births and supporting those who may have lost a child. It's been an honor being invited into their births and supporting their new baby into their families.

I have my Doula certification through DONA, Indigenous Breastfeeding Councilor from Cami Goldhammer and Kimberly Moore-Salas at Mewinzha in Bemidji, Minnesota

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Shashana Craft, White Earth Ojibwe, Minnesota 

Nenookaasikwe Indizhinkaas. Mukwa Dodem. Gaawaabaabiganikag Indoojiba. Hello. My spiritual name is Hummingbird Woman. I am from the Bear Clan. Originally I am from the White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota. Today I live near Minneapolis. I have raised four children. I am now taking care of two of my young relatives. I am a trained nurse. I am a certified perinatal educator and doula. I also am an Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor. I truly enjoy working in our native community here in the state of Minnesota. I am currently a Director with the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition and a Secretary for the Board. I am the founder of Nitamising Gimashkikinaan. This means our first medicine in Ojibwe. I formed this Indigenous lactation support circle in August of 2019. I saw there was a need to support and connect families who nourish their infants. I just received the IBC training less than two weeks prior and began my professional career, although I have been an advocate for many years. 

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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Ana Maria Linares, Kentucky

Ana Maria Linares graduated and received her degree in midwifery from the University of Chile. She earned a Doctor of Nursing Science degree in 2006 from the University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. She obtained her RN license in Kentucky in 2009 and the credential as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2012.

Dr. Linares joined the faculty at University of Kentucky, College of Nursing in 2009. Currently, she is an Associate Professor, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Dr. Linares has a program of research on health disparities with an emphasis on the promotion of breastfeeding that has been funded by intramural and extramural grant awards. She is conducting several studies on breastfeeding in KY including a randomized controlled trial among Hispanic women and their family support person to assess the effectiveness of an innovative and community-based family-centered intervention that seeks to enhance exclusive breastfeeding. Additionally, she is leading a multisite international study to define the cultural determinants of exclusive breastfeeding in Latino American countries. Dr. Linares has disseminated findings in peer-reviewed publications and through oral/poster presentations at national and international conferences. 

Dr. Linares has been awarded the Breastfeeding Champion Award from the Breastfeeding Improvement Network Kentucky Lactation in 2014, and with the Terry Jo Curtis 2016 Award, by the US Breastfeeding Consultants Association (USLCA), which is delivered to relevant national researchers working with vulnerable populations. Recently, Dr. Linares has received a teaching and research award from the Fulbright Scholars Program that took her to Peru (March-June 2019) where she implemented a study to understand determinants of anemia in children and the association with infant feeding practices.   

Additionally, Dr. Linares is a happy grandmother of eleven grandchildren, all exclusively breastfed for a year or more.  

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Fulkumari Rozario, New York

I am Fulkumari Rozario, Registered Nurse, MPH, CBS, Postpartum (Woman and Children Division), working in Elmhurst Hospital Center, New York since Oct. 15th, 2018 as a  Registered Nurse in the postpartum, Mother and Baby Unit. I have temporarily been promoted as a Lactation Consultant since the August of 2020. I got an equivalent degree of MPH in the United States.  I have a publication on lactation management  "Bangladesh Journal of Child health". A clinical nursing Study 2020 approved by the Nursing Clinical Ladder program review committee about "Increasing exclusive breastfeeding rate among Cesarian Mothers- including NICU babies" and am a candidate for the IBCLC exam April 2021. I was a midwife in Bangladesh and received an official award from Japan on Location management expertise through Japanese Breast Treatment (Oketani Breast Massage). My passion is Lactation Management. I love to direct hands-on assistance, give support, and educate the mothers on making their babies brilliant. I would love to work with the Global lactation management team including IBCLC, WHO/UNICEF, and USBC. I would also like to learn more from highly competent leaders and professionals. My long term goal is by 2022 is that I want to see myself studying 'Doctoral Nursing Practices'. 

 

 

2020 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."