About Us

Breast Milk for Babies is a non-profit organization created to establish a human donor milk bank in Minnesota. We are affiliated with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, HMBANA, which establishes guidelines for donor milk practices.

Our mission is to improve infant health outcomes by ensuring that medically vulnerable babies —in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest—have access to safely pasteurized life-giving human donor milk when mother’s milk is unavailable or in low supply.

What is a donor human milk bank?
Mothers who are breastfeeding often have extra breast milk. A milk bank is a facility which processes human donor milk for distribution to infants who need breast milk.  The donated milk is pasteurized, tested for bacteria, frozen and then stored until it is shipped to health care facilities.

What is the difference between a human donor milk bank and a milk depot?
A milk depot is a place where mothers can bring their extra milk to donate for other babies. The collected milk is transported to the milk bank for processing and distribution. Each human milk depot is affiliated with an established milk bank.

Is breast milk safe?
Before milk is accepted, every donating mother is carefully screened by a phone interview, written application and blood tests.

Why use donor milk?
Human milk is known to be the superior food for infants.  Use of this milk is crucial in the care of preterm and sick infants.  Research shows that preterm babies fed human donor milk have fewer infections, less severe complications, and shorter hospitalizations thus reuniting families sooner.

Why does Minnesota need a non-profit milk bank?
Currently in the United States less than 50% of the states have an active milk bank. Since national directives encourage hospitals to provide donor milk and research shows the benefits of breast milk for all babies, it becomes even more important that Minnesota establishes a milk bank.  Milk banks are having trouble keeping up with the increasing demand of milk and frequently run out.

Still have questions?
Please contact us at mnbreastmilkforbabies@gmail.com. We would be happy to hear from you!



Board of Directors

Evelyn Lindholm, BSN, RNC, IBCLC
North Memorial Hospital. Evelyn works in hospital settings with NICU and healthy newborn, with her nursing career spanning over 40 years, a lactation consultant for 23 years, she sees daily the benefits that breastmilk provides babies. She believes each baby deserves the beast nutrition of breastmilk to give them lifesaving and lifelong benefits.


Jill Lindquist, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, PHN

Vice President
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.


John Woodhead, MBA
John has extensive entrepreneurial and general management experience with companies engaged in service, distribution, manufacturing and buy/sell operations. He has focused his attention on companies with revenues from $1 million to in excess of $500 million with single and multiple points of operation.  Mr. Woodhead earned an MBA from Harvard University. He served as President and Director of national associations and an advisor to certain franchise, consumer goods, service, and banking enterprises.


Emily Van Essen, BA, RN, CLC, PHN
Secretary, Social Media/Website Administrator

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.



Renee BMFB Website 2Renee Torbenson, MA
Board Member
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.



 Medical and Health Sciences Advisory Committee

Pamela Heggie, MD, IBCLC, FAAP, FABM
Medical Director, Committee Chair
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.



Karin Kishel, RN, CLE
Karin is a retired pediatric nurse and lactation educator. She worked for many years in a pediatric clinic providing lactation support for moms and babies. Karin is also a mother and grandmother who has supported breastfeeding in many generations!



If you have questions, contact us at mnbreastmilkforbabies@gmail.com