About Us

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies is a 501c3 non-profit organization. We are a developing milk bank currently collaborating with the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Western Great Lakes, which is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. As a developing milk bank, we are in the start up phase of operations. We have hired and are training new staff and plan to be fully operational in the very near future.

Until our milk bank is fully operational, your donation might be processed by Mothers Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes or other HMBANA Milk Banks.


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.

Our Milk Bank Location:
Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies
2525 Nevada Ave N, Suite 304
Golden Valley, MN 55427

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.

Still have questions?
Please contact us at info@mnmilkbank.org. We would be happy to hear from you!



Linda Hsiung Dech
Executive Director

            Linda Hsiung Dech joins the Milk Bank in September 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.

Jason Foss

            Also starting in September 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.  

Barbara Northenscold
Lab Manager

Barbara Northenscold has food science and pasteurizing expertise and leads our lab team.  Barabara and Jason will focus on efficient, high quality human milk pasteurizing to build up inventory.

Kris Scott
Donor Coordinator

            In August 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.  


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
Medical Director
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!


 Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies would like to recognize our prior board members for all of their work and dedication:

Evelyn Lindholm – Founder
Ardys Christenson
Diane Van Essen
Anne Cassens

If you have questions, contact us at info@mnmilkbank.org


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