Linda Hsiung Dech
Linda Hsiung Dech joins the Milk Bank in September 2019 as the Executive Director and she brings outstanding leadership and management skills to the position. She is one of the founders of the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition, and for the past 9 years she has served as the WIC Peer Breastfeeding Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Health. Linda graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Biology. She earned her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with over 20 years of work in breastfeeding advocacy and support. Her personal and professional experience in the fields of lactation and public health will enable the Milk Bank to realize its potential to help vulnerable babies through donor human milk pasteurization and distribution.
In August 2019 we welcomed Kris Scott as our Donor Coordinator. Kris is a Registered Nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) with over 30 years of nursing leadership at Allina Health. She brings meticulous attention to detail to the entire donor screening process and offers information, support, and affirmation to every potential donor who calls the office.
Depot Coordinator/ Pasteurizer
Also starting in September 2019 is Jason Foss who recently earned his MPH degree in Maternal and Child Health at the University of Minnesota. He did his undergraduate work at Oregon State University in Microbiology. In addition to his lab and public health experience at the University, Jason has been a longtime volunteer for the Children’s Miracle Network in the area of fundraising through social media, special events, and community organizing.
Board of Directors
Jill Lindquist, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, PHN
Jill has worked 30 years as an RN and 22 years as a lactation consultant. Her entire career has centered around mothers and their babies. She has seen first hand the differences that are made by using human milk, so she feels every baby deserves to have the best start in life. Nothing makes a more significant difference than human milk.
Bridget Ryan, MA
Bridget has over 40 years of experience in the field of non-profit social services administration including the Center for Community Action, Loaves and Fishes, the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and Family Promise in Anoka County. Her work has assisted disadvantaged youth, seniors, incarcerated and ex-offenders, hungry and homeless families, and communities in need of capacity building. She has an advanced degree in Organizational Leadership and is an adjunct faculty member in the graduate school of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Teaching in semi-retirement is enriched by her work as an occasional nanny to a delightful toddler.
Renee Torbenson, MA
Renee holds a masters degree in early childhood education with an emphasis in infant development. During her more than 38 years as an educator she has worked in both hospital and community settings. In her experience as a parent and lactation educator she knows first hand there are mothers willing to donate their breast milk to help premature and newborn babies with health challenges get off to the best start. A human donor milk bank right here in Minnesota will make it more likely that mothers will make that breast milk donation.
Emily Van Essen, BA, RN, CLC, PHN
Emily is a Labor and Delivery/Postpartum Nurse and a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). She believes that donor breast milk is a good solution to bridge the gap until a mom is able to produce enough for her baby; supporting baby’s health and the family goals.
Medical and Health Sciences Advisory Committee
Pamela Heggie, MD, IBCLC, FAAP, FABM
Dr. Heggie practices both general pediatrics and breastfeeding medicine at Central Pediatrics in St. Paul, MN. She went to medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and completed her residency in pediatrics in New York at the University of Rochester. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and serves as AAP co-chapter breastfeeding coordinator for Minnesota. She is also a Fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (FABM). Dr. Heggie is an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota where she teaches about breastfeeding to medical students and pediatric residents.
Nancy Fahim, MBBCh
Dr Fahim graduated from Cairo University Medical school and completed her neonatology fellowship training at Washington University in St Louis where she subsequently joined as Faculty. She then joined the University of Minnesota in 2009 and covered the NICUs at North Memorial and Maple Grove Hospitals from 2010-2018 where she assisted with the Baby Friendly journey and achieving Baby Friendly status at both hospitals. Over the years, she has developed a passion for understanding and promoting the use of human milk. Her current goals include optimizing the use of breast milk in the NICU and promoting exclusive breast feeding for all newborns with widespread education on the unique protective and nutritional properties of breast milk, also establishing excellence in newborn clinical care with continuously expanding services and quality improvement projects. Additionally, her research interests include evaluating the neuroprotective effect of endogenous and exogenous Erythropoietin levels on the developing brain of extremely premature infants.
Matt Dubay, PhD
Matt received his doctorate from the Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering Department of the University of MN after developing and building a number of various research instruments during his graduate work. He has been using his scientific/technical talents in the manufacturing industry for the past 6 years. After the birth of his daughter, Matt and his wife saw firsthand the benefits of breastfeeding. He understands the need for human breast milk in MN and is interested in helping create a safe & efficient process for pasteurizing & distributing the donated milk.
Alexis Russell Kochanski, MA
Alexi graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 with a degree in political science and a minor in communications. In 2015 she completed her Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in the Public Health Administration and Policy program. During her time as a Master’s student, she became interested in the intersection of breastfeeding as a public health issue and national policy reforms that make it easier for nursing mother’s returning to work. On April 24, 2018 she gave birth to her first child, Callum Russell Kochanski and as a new mother exclusively breastfeeding her infant, her views towards breastfeeding and ensuring infants have access to breastmilk have intensified. During her leave she was an active participant in the HealthPartner’s Mom Café and has established strong relationships with breastfeeding mothers and continues to offer support to pregnant and new mothers wishing to breastfeed. Alexis is currently the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
Mira G. Sheff, PhD, MS
Dr. Mira Sheff joined the Minnesota Department of Health as the State Maternal & Child Health Epidemiologist in August 2015. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for the Minnesota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (MN PRAMS), a collaborative surveillance project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose purpose is to understand why some babies are born healthy and others are not. Prior to joining the health department, she was an assistant professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, where she conducted research and taught graduate-level courses in the subjects of women’s health and injury and violence prevention. She received both her Masters and PhD from the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences.
Grace Doolittle, BSN, RNC, IBCLC
Grace has spent her 38 year career at the University of Minnesota’s NICU, practicing as a lactation consultant since 2000. She instituted the use of donor milk for their patients beginning in 2003. Working with ill and premature babies, she counsels their mothers in developing optimal milk supplies. She also encourages mothers with excess milk to donate to help others through milk banking.
Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies would like to recognize our prior board members for all of their work and dedication:
Evelyn Lindholm – Founder
Diane Van Essen
If you have questions or are interested in serving on the board, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org