Healthy Children Project interactive competency team members are leaders in the field who are recognized for their evidence-based scholarship as well as their clinical experience.
Jacquelyn Benson, RN, CLC, ANLC, IBCLC
Jacquelyn is a Registered Nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor. Her work has focused on maternal/child nursing with an emphasis on the newborn nursery, OB, NICU, and pediatrics. As a hospital-based nurse, Jacquelyn has been helping mothers and babies with breastfeeding during their hospital stay. Jacquelyn currently resides in New Jersey due west of Manhattan, and works with moms and babies in the community. She is blessed with a wonderful husband, two grown children, and a delightful granddaughter.
Anna Blair, PhD, IBCLC, CLC
Anna is the Director of Academic Programs at Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding. As a lactation care provider, Dr. Blair works in a community-based lactation center answering a breastfeeding warmline for three counties and offering face-to-face visits. Dr. Blair spent nearly two decades in academia in addition to her work in clinical practice and research. She is the author of numerous books and research articles.
Elyse Blair, RN, BSN, ANLC, IBCLC
Elyse has worked as a Clinical Nurse Educator at a large university teaching children’s hospital in Atlanta, played an integral role in the NICU as a lactation consultant in an Atlanta hospital that delivered 17,000+ babies in 2016 and has a 100+ bed NICU. Elyse was a member of the Eisenhower Foundation Delegation on Breastfeeding and Human Lactation to Russia and Romania and has also traveled to Latvia, Egypt, and Germany, teaching and supporting new moms and their babies. She wrote the monograph A Guide to Breastfeeding Your Special Care Baby, and co-authored the 2nd edition of Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. Elyse’s biggest pleasures are her family – husband Ken, sons Bradley and Michael, and her amazing granddaughters, Millie, Charlotte and Goldie. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tangela L. Boyd, MA, CLC, CLE, CCCE, CPD
Tangela is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Certified Lactation Educator (CLE), Certified Childbirth Educator (CCCE) and Certified Postpartum Doula (CPD). She has a passion for working with breastfeeding mothers. Tangela has a Master of Arts degree in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Human Lactation and is certified in Infant, Child, and Adult CPR as an Instructor. She has been working with breastfeeding mothers for the past 11 years. Tangela’s vision is to see breastfeeding rates and perinatal education increase in our society, especially among women of color. Tangela is a PhD candidate and hopes to see this vision come to pass.
Kajsa Brimdyr, PhD, CLC
Kajsa is an experienced ethnographer, researcher and international expert in the implementation of continuous, uninterrupted skin-to-skin in the first hour after birth. She is a published author and the award-winning director of The Magical Hour: Holding Your Baby for the First Hour After Birth and the groundbreaking DVD Skin-to-Skin in the First Hour after Birth: Practical Advice for Staff after Vaginal and Cesarean Birth. Her current research involves using video ethnography to change practice in hospital settings to improve continuous skin-to-skin for the first hour.
Karin Cadwell, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANLC, CLC, IBCLC
Karin has worked in the field of breastfeeding and human lactation for more than 50 years. Dr. Cadwell is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and counsels breastfeeding mothers at the Center for Breastfeeding, a community-based lactation clinic on Cape Cod. She is the author of numerous books and research articles.
Nikki Lee, RN, BSN, MS, ANLC, IBCLC, CCE, CIMI, CKC, RYT500
Nikki is an author, a teacher, a holistic lactation consultant, a craniosacral therapy practitioner, a yoga instructor, and a baby body worker (teaching Infant Massage and Tummy Time!). She is also mother to 2 wonderful (breastfed for a long time) daughters, and wife to 3 interesting men, only one of whom was the right one for the past 38 years, Rafe! Her publications include the books, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Breastfeeding Therapy and A Breastfeeding Owner’s Manual; the monographs, “Benefits of Breastfeeding and Their Economic Impact” and “Sexuality and Breastfeeding” and the educational pamphlet “How to help yourself through labor”. She was the reviews editor for the journal Clinical Lactation, and has worked as the lactation consultant for the division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health since 2006, and maintains a private practice in holistic lactation, integrating concepts from craniosacral therapy, infant massage, TummyTime!, homeopathy and integrative positional therapy into her work. Other interests include playing back-up rhythm guitar (Cajun and old-time styles), hiking and yoga.
Shari O’Brien, RNC, ANLC, IBCLC
Shari is a nurse and lactation consultant with 30+ years of experience caring for well and high-risk mothers and babies in settings ranging from a small rural community hospital to a large urban teaching hospital. She was instrumental in the implementation of several of the 10 Steps in the Boston hospital where she spent the majority of her career.
Melissa R. Reyes, CLC
Melissa is a mother of two daughters whom she breastfed, exclusively at first, and onward for a total of 4 1/2 years. She has worked for WIC as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and as Community Coordinator. She has experience with community outreach and social services. In 2019, Melissa was awarded Massachusetts WIC Peer Counselor of the Year for excellence in commitment, leadership, and participant service. Melissa was born and raised in Brazil. She has assisted individuals, nationally and internationally, achieve their breastfeeding goals. As a Certified Lactation Counselor, supporting individuals is her passion.
Carin Richter, RN, MSN, APN-BC, IBCLC, CCBE
Carin has worked with mothers and babies in the acute care setting for 27 years, including 17 as the clinical nurse specialist in charge of staff education and special projects and as maternal/child nurse/ physician liaison. Carin developed a nurse-run postpartum care follow-up clinic specializing in the assessment and support of the postpartum mother/baby couplet. The clinic focuses on breastfeeding issues as well as screening for newborn jaundice and maternal postpartum depression. The clinic also serves as a clearinghouse for community information and education on breastfeeding. Carin coordinated her facility’s initial steps toward Baby-Friendly designation. As a member of her regional breastfeeding coalition, Carin participated in the coalition’s taskforce to contribute to the writing of the State of Illinois Blueprint for Breastfeeding. The coalition also hosts a bi-yearly breastfeeding conference for health care professionals. On a national level, Carin has served on the ANCC panel of experts for Perinatal Care. She has spoken nationally on various topics of women’s health, breastfeeding promotion and nursing research at AWHONN and Magnet yearly conferences. She was also selected to be a podium presenter at various national Nursing Research Symposiums. Carin serves as a frequent guest lecturer for maternal/child nursing topics at Saint Anthony College of Nursing. On the home front, Carin and her husband Charlie enjoy gardening, traveling, and entertaining “domestic goddess style” for friends and family.
Kristin Stewart, BS, CLC
Kristin has been teaching the art of communication for over 20 years with an expertise in non-verbal communication. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Brown University in Political Science and has had a long and varied career involving travel, performance, and teaching. Kristin has been working with Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding for eight years and is fascinated by the unspoken communication in the breastfeeding dyad. Recent projects include the research of popular culture surrounding birth and breastfeeding and its impact on adolescent women and discourse analysis of breastfeeding in popular culture for the past two decades.
Cindy Turner-Maffei, MA, ALC, IBCLC
Cindy has worked at Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding for more than 20 years. From 1997-2011, she served as National Coordinator of Baby-Friendly USA, overseeing the implementation of the UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States. An IBCLC since 1988, Cindy has extensive experience as a nutritionist and breastfeeding coordinator in WIC and other Maternal Child Health programs. She is the author of numerous books and research articles.
Donna Walls, RN, BSN, ICCE, IBCLC, ANLC
Donna has been a Registered Nurse for 45 years, and for 43 years has worked with pregnant and new parents. She became a certified childbirth educator in 1984 and a certified lactation consultant in 1987. She joined Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding in 2010 and continues to practice as a clinical lactation consultant. She was the project leader for the successful Baby-Friendly designation at Southview Hospital in 2008 and serves as the representative to the United States Breastfeeding Committee for the International Childbirth Education Association, where she serves as the Director of Lactation. She is active in her local breast cancer task foundation, developing education on breast cancer prevention. In 1997, she graduated as a master herbalist from the Australasian College with a Diploma Degree in Herbal Sciences and in 1998 became a certified aromatherapist. She published her first book “Natural Families – Healthy Homes” in 2007, and second book “Growing Green Families” in 2016, focusing on the connection between the health of the environment and personal health. At home in Dayton, Ohio, Donna enjoys time with her husband, three children, and six grandchildren.
Liz Westwater, MSM, CLC
Liz has been in the world of breastfeeding advocacy and women’s health for over thirty years. Prior to joining the Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding, Liz was the Accreditation Director for Baby-Friendly USA. During her tenure at BFUSA, Liz worked on several nationwide programs, including the CPPW and Best-Fed Beginnings, where her work included assisting hospitals and communities to improve breastfeeding outcomes by implementing maternity care practice changes. She has served in a variety of program management roles for private and public agencies, including the Cape Cod WIC Program and several Title X Family Planning Programs including North Shore Family Planning, Boston Family Planning Project and Cape Cod Family Planning Program. She is an active volunteer and has served as a board member and president of the Cape Cod Center for Women and on the board of the Waldorf School of Cape Cod. Liz holds her MSM in Health Systems Management from Lesley University as well as a BS in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. Liz lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her husband and her rescue dog.
Eira N. Yates, MSSA, CLC
Eira has a rich, successful, and committed history in health, social service, and education. She has a lifelong tie and commitment towards community service, community growth, and the development and progress of vulnerable and underserved populations. Eira has over 15 years’ experience in healthcare and social services. She has served in leadership roles for The Cleveland Department of Public Health, Moms First Program in Washington, DC, Fatherhood Initiative, Invest in Children of Cuyahoga County, Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation, Ohio Guidestone Organization, and Development of Curriculums and Paternal Depression Screening. Her expertise lies in program planning/management locally and nationally, minority infant mortality education and prevention, healthy pregnancy, Maternal and Child Health, Healthy Fathering, and community-based participatory research.
Lois Arnold, PhD, MPH, ALC – Faculty Emerita
Dr. Arnold was a recognized international and national expert on donor milk banking policy and practice as well as breast milk collection and storage techniques. Dr. Arnold was a founding member and served as the Executive Director of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, Inc. for many years. She coordinated of the National Commission on Donor Milk Banking, a special project of the American Breastfeeding Institute, and focused her energy on the development of health policy related to donor human milk banking. A founding member of the National Leadership Roundtable and then a founding member and delegate to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, she was a member of the Healthy Children Project Faculty for more than 20 years, Dr. Arnold developed curricula, taught workshops, and presented her work internationally and in all 50 states. In addition she served on breastfeeding and human lactation delegations to China, Latvia, Russia, Romania, Cuba, Sweden and Denmark and Egypt. She also created continuing education modules for La Leche League and presented at the LLLI International Conferences, the LLLI Physicians’ Seminars and the Traveling Workshops. Among her many publications was the book Human Milk in the NICU: Policy into Practice. Dr. Arnold died in 2016.
Barbara O’Connor, RN, BSN, IBCLC, ANLC – Faculty Emerita
Barbara taught actively for the Healthy Children Project for more than 20 years, beginning in the late 1990s. She holds degrees in nursing and elementary education. She has worked in a variety of settings as a newborn nursery nurse, school nurse, HIV/AIDS educator, WIC coordinator, and training consultant. Barbara was a member of the first International People to People Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Delegation to Russia, Romania, and Cuba, and has taught lactation courses to physicians in Latvia and Egypt. She is an author of the 2nd edition of Maternal & Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. Having participated in breastfeeding task forces at both the local, state, and national level, Barbara designed and authored the Grandmothers’ Tea Project for the Illinois State Breastfeeding Task Force. Barbara served as a Baby-Friendly hospital assessor for over 10 years and served as assessment manager for Baby-Friendly USA. She was part of a national expert team that completed the first national assessment of the state of Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding using World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi).