Linda Hsiung Dech, MPH, IBCLC
Linda Hsiung Dech joined the Milk Bank in September 2019 as the Executive Director. She is one of the founders of the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition and has served as the Peer Breastfeeding Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Health Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. In addition to having a public health background, she is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with over 20 years of work in breastfeeding advocacy and support.
Emily Schreiner, RN, BAN, PHN, CLC
Emily Schreiner joined the Milk Bank in October 2023 as a Clinical Donor Coordinator. Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College in Nursing and Sociology/Anthropology. She is a Certified Lactation Counselor, with a strong hospital background supporting families from labor to postpartum. Her passion for donor milk comes full circle with her new role. In the past she served on the board of directors, used donor milk after the birth of her daughter, and went on to be a milk donor herself.
Pamela Heggie, MD, IBCLC
Dr. Pamela Heggie worked with the original founders to help begin the Milk Bank. She became Medical Director in 2017. She is a Pediatrician and Breastfeeding Medicine Specialist and a strong advocate for breastfeeding equity and donor human milk for all in need. She is also an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota.
Juechee Yang joined the milk bank spring of 2022. She supports the milk bank’s mission and is always “bringing it back to the babies.” Having breastfed her children, she understands the many challenges, stigmas, and cultural differences there can be for mothers who nurse and continue to nurse. She looks forward to highlighting the mamas who can donate their glorious milk. “Breastfeeding reminds us of the universal truth of abundance: the more we give out, the more we are filled up, and that divine nourishment – the source from which we all draw – is, like a mother’s breast, ever full and ever flowing.” – Sarah Buckley
Alexis Nicklow, RN, BSN
Alexis Nicklow joined the Milk Bank in November 2022 as a Clinical Donor Coordinator. As a mother of two elementary-aged boys who were born prematurely and spent many months in the NICU, Alexis is devoted to “paying it forward” and ensuring that other babies have access to the life-giving human donor milk. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from The College of St. Catherine and has experience working in Medical-Surgical/Oncology and Plastic Surgery. She is certified by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine to facilitate Mind-Body Skills Groups to help accelerate the healing process from psychological trauma and stress. Alexis also volunteers on the gala committee for Children’s Surgery International, a global nonprofit that provides free medical services to children in need.
Leah Mortenson, RN, BSN, PHN, CLC
Leah Mortenson joined the Milk Bank as Clinical Donor Coordinator in November 2022, where she plays a pivotal role in managing the approval process for milk donors. Drawing on her two decades of experience as a Registered Nurse, including previous work in Labor and Delivery and school nursing, Leah brings a rich blend of expertise. Leah earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing from the University of San Francisco and she recently became a certified Lactation Counselor. She has global health experience in prenatal care provision in Uganda and Guatemala. Her unwavering belief in the life-saving power of human milk is reflected in her dedication to giving babies the very best start in life.
Lori Thomas joined the Donor Coordination team in September 2022, dedicating her time to ensure safe donor milk gets to babies in need. Working in her dream job, Lori helps maintain close relationships with potential and current milk donors through the screening and approval process. Her commitment to the community has been demonstrated through her various roles as an on-call firefighter for Maple Grove, La Leche League Leader, on-call banquet server and volunteer for her children’s schools and church youth program. She is certified in Fire 1 and 2, Hazmat response, EMR certification, and Fire Apparatus Operations.
Jason Foss, MPH
Jason Foss has been an integral part of the Milk Bank team since September 2019, even before it was licensed and accredited. With a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Oregon State University and a Master’s of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Minnesota, Jason brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. He previously worked at the Minnesota Department of Health in the Antibiotic Resistance and Healthcare-acquired Infections unit. As a longtime volunteer for the Children’s Miracle Network, he has experience in fundraising through social media, special events, and community organizing. By being a part of the Milk Bank team, Jason has the opportunity to help sick children with their most basic need – the need to eat.
Emma Ecker, a recent graduate with a degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota Morris, joined the Milk Bank with a strong interest in working for a nonprofit organization. Prior to this, she spent 7 months working as an English language assistant in two public middle schools in Nord/Hauts de France. In her free time, Emma enjoys painting and collage art, and she is the proud owner of two sphynx cats. She is thrilled to be a part of the Milk Bank and is eager to educate her friends and family about the mission and importance of milk banking.
Kiana Maxwell joined the team in February of 2022 as a pasteurization technician. She is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota where she studied Developmental Psychology and Public Health. Currently, Kiana is also a research assistant at the Culture and Family Life Lab and the Human Capital Research Collaborative. Her interests embrace maternal and infant health, cultural engagement, and serving the Philippine community of Minnesota.
Venedia Campbell joined the team in December 2021 as a Pasteurizer. Venedia is a native of Minneapolis and an involved member of her community. She is also a childbirth worker and currently enrolled in the Nursing program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Her passion is helping and informing moms on the importance of breast milk and prenatal care.
Bridget Ryan, MA
Bridget Ryan has provided advisory services to the Milk Bank for nearly a decade, focusing on mission formation, community outreach, and grant writing. She served on the Board of Directors and currently performs occasional Human Resources tasks. Her 40+ years of experience in nonprofit social services administration includes work with the Center for Community Action, Loaves and Fishes, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, and Family Promise of Anoka County. Her efforts have benefited disadvantaged youth, seniors, incarcerated/ex-offenders, hungry/homeless families, and communities in need of capacity building. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government and History from the College of St. Benedict and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Mellisa Vang, MPNA
Mellisa Vang has been handling administrative roles with the Milk Bank since June 2021. Prior to her joining the team, she was an elementary youth worker and a certified postpartum doula working with babies in the comfort of their own homes where emotional and physical support was offered to families. She understands that the process of breastfeeding does not come easily for everyone or opted out for several reasons in which she is grateful to take part of a mission that ensures babies have access to pasteurized donor human milk. Mellisa is a proud Hmong-American and holds a Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration degree from Metropolitan State University.